3 Ways that Corporate Social Responsibility Can Expand Giving


Guest Blogger: Amy Jones, Director of Philanthropy, Royal Neighbors of America

 Have you heard about Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR? Have you wondered why it matters to a fundraiser how companies define their CSR? Many people assume that Corporate Social Responsibility is all about the dollars a corporation will donate to non-profits, but it’s about so much more. It’s really about alignment: aligning an organization’s products and services with the good they create in the community, aligning their environmental efforts with the impact they make environmentally, and aligning their employees with the company’s purpose.

Many of us that sit in a fundraising position are quick to only hear this: donations and sponsorship dollars. If you are not able to see the entire picture of how a company is aligning their business with their CSR practices, you are missing opportunities for engagement and ultimately dollars. 

Here are three ways that you might work within a company’s CSR goals and desires to create better relationships with potential corporate partners. 

  1. Understand a company’s CSR goals

 I work for a company with the mission to empower women and girls and to financially protect families. This is a broad area that can be achieved and defined in many different ways – but we get many asks that say (paraphrased), “Hey, we help women so you should help us.” Usually, this is not good enough for us even though we understand you are making a tremendous impact.

Just like you might have a focus for fundraising, we have a focus for our CSR efforts. We are much more likely to build a partnership with your organization if these goals can be aligned. Recently, a non-profit approached us about funding a study and noted that we might be interested in this opportunity because it would fulfill one of our desires to provide outcomes for our philanthropy programs. This was a great alignment and we said yes to this collaborative effort.  

2. Work to build a partnership for a lasting relationship

Just like you have fundraising goals, companies have CSR goals to reach. The results are reported to their boards, members, and customers through a variety of non-financial reports. Nice-to-dos and nice-to-haves are not good enough to share with boards – they want to know how these strategic acts of charity, kindness and social responsibility relate to the alignment and ultimately the success of the business. If you are able to understand a company’s goals, you can find opportunities for lasting partnerships instead of the one-time ask each year. This provides stability for your non-profit and the company.

3. CSR is also about employee engagement

As a non-profit professional, you know how important it is to foster relationships. It’s time to pull these skills out and use them in an expanded way – and not just with your contact at the company. Understanding their goals for employee engagement is a place for you to explore opportunities. Does the company have employee volunteering goals? Do they have a volunteer day? Do they allow internal fundraisers? Do they loan out staff members with special expertise to organizations? Learning more about this area gives you an opportunity to expand your partnership and to create more relationships with company employees.

These are just three ways for you to grow your relationship with a corporate partner, but CSR is even bigger than the items mentioned above. CSR also addresses issues of governance, environmental responsibility, economic impact, and being a good neighbor and employer. If you take away anything from this post, it should be that CSR is much more than dollars donated. You might ask representatives at your partner companies – or the companies with which you want to partner – how you can better help them meet their CSR goals.

 Amy Jones has been in the non-profit sector for most of her career focusing on cause-related marketing and fundraising.

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