CSR initiatives should create tangible business and social impact
So, it’s clear from our points above that, many companies are under pressure to show their clients and stakeholders – that include their investors, partners, suppliers, and government – that they are addressing social impact issues.
Unfortunately, many of these firms address this requirement in a tactical approach instead of a strategic one.
They do activities just to benefit from the media exposure.
You can see this practiced by companies in the form of “greenwashing”, limited volunteering or charity work.
Given the extent of the global challenges we are facing, these kind of limited sustainability initiatives are not enough!
We all need to do more.
In the past, it was hard to do more.
There weren’t well defined challenge areas nor clear reporting standards.
It was also hard for a business to manage large scale programs manually.
With the development of online innovation and empowerment platforms – such as the potential.com platform – it has become much easier to rollout and manage CSR initiatives and to create tangible positive impact.
Another great development has been the wide adoption of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
These goals have become widely used and can be a great starting point for your CSR initiatives.
All government bodies and most organizations know about these goals and have focused on some of them.
By aligning your efforts to the UN SDGs you can communicate more easily with your stakeholders to engage them and thus create more impact.
So, let’s move on to how you can launch your 2022 CSR initiative.
Empowerment and Innovation are the foundation of sustainability
If we want to create long lasting sustainability and create real impact, we should focus empowering our communities.
We do so by working with them to innovate solutions to our social and sustainability challenges.
If we can empower our stakeholders – be it clients, suppliers, partners, and everyone we engage with – to work together toward sustainable solutions, we can create more impact.
By harnessing the creative talent of our stakeholders, we can innovate better.
The innovation can benefit our business if we align it to our strategy.
A digital empowerment and innovation platform can engage our stakeholders and allow us to track and report on important metrics. We can also use it to empower those around us to come up with sustainable innovations.
4 Steps to launch your CSR program
By following the below 4 steps you can create a positive social impact at scale.
And you can do so efficiently and effectively.
Step 1- Identify your business and impact priorities so it aligns with your CSR work
The first place to start is from your strategy.
What is your vision and mission? How can you align your CSR work to that mission?
What kind of sustainable innovations can benefit your business?
Here are some examples:
If you find a way to save energy in your manufacturing, you can save on product development costs
If you find ways to recycle your products, it could help you in your production costs
Also, if you transport your products more efficiently, you can save costs and improve services
All the above examples have positive business and sustainability impact.
If you can tap into the talent of your community, you can empower them to innovate and at the same time benefit your business.
Step 2- Identify the target audience that can benefit the most from your CSR initiative
The next step is to determine who from your community should you target in your communication and engagement.
They should have the most to gain from your sustainability initiative.
Your target audience should be able to also contribute to your CSR priority areas and innovate with you.
They may be youth / students, entrepreneurs, suppliers, underserved communities, job seekers?
Think about where you can have the most impact and whom you can empower the most.
Also think about which community can provide you the most return on that impact and return on investment by possibly creating innovative solutions for your business.
Step 3- How can you reward the most active community?
So you have identified your business and impact priorities of your social impact initiative and identified who are the beneficiaries that can benefit and engage with you.
The next step is to think about how you can attract these community members.
How can you incentivize them to participate in your program?
Our limited attention spans are in high demand.
Social media, streaming services and the countless distractions we get on our phones means that it’s hard to make one of your target audiences stop and check your program.
For that reason, you need to think about what you can offer the community as a reward for engaging with you.
Depending on your CSR program, you might be able to offer the opportunity to invest or incubate some innovations that come out.
Or you might use it as an opportunity to identify top talent that can apply for internship positions or full-time jobs.
Alternately, you might just decide to offer prizes or recognition to the best talent or the best ideas that come out of the program
Step 4- Which UN SDGs are aligned with your CSR initiative?
Finally, in order to community with your public and stakeholders in a clear and effective way, choose which of the 17 UN SDGs can be aligned to your initiative.
You might find that you want to focus on 1 specific SDG or rather find that your initiative can address several of them.
Each goal has a set of targets that has been identified and which you can align with.
This would help you in measuring and reporting on the impact of your social initiative.
There are also many impact reporting tools and models that you can use which are also aligned to the SDGs
Taking action – your 2022 CSR initiative
Given that you have identified the 4 previous steps, you are ready now to launch your sustainability initiative.
And we are ready to support you in that journey!
You can start small and have a pre-populated ready-to-go platform that aligns with your initiative and your focus UN SDG.
Such a platform can be up and running in minutes.
Alternatively, you can take a platform template from our library – such a youth empowerment program – and customize it with your content, process and branding.
“By using an online platform that is designed for community empowerment and innovation, your sustainability initiative can have the large-scale impact without needing large-scale budgets.”