10 Strategies to Jumpstart your 2016 CSR Programs

At the beginning of each year, we reflect upon the past year’s trends and hot topics and plan for the coming year’s initiatives. In the Corporate Social Responsibility space, it’s important to focus on organizational strategic goals while mapping programs to overall trends and global issues.

Last week, we welcomed two seasoned CSR professionals as hosts for a webinar discussing the evolution of CSR and suggestions to jump start your initiatives in the new year. If you were not able to attend, don’t fret! This post will provide highlights from this enlightening conversation.

Debbie Snyder, Division President of Enterprise CSR at Good Done Great, began the presentation with a discussion on the evolution of CSR . She noted as the industry moves toward total corporate citizenship, CSR professionals must adapt and effectively address all stakeholders including stockholders, employees, and the community through their CSR efforts. Four key themes guided the conversation: the arrival of the Millennial generation, the need for Year Round Campaigns, the importance of utilizing Technology, and the growing emphasis on Volunteerism.

Emerging CSR Strategies

The Arrival of the Millennial Generation

Millennials are highly educated, social, and contrary to popular opinion- inclined to charitable giving. This generation wants to share their volunteer and giving experiences with their social network. Furthermore, millennials are more likely to give to a cause versus a specific charity. Ensure that your CSR technology platform enables content creation and allows your employees to give to a variety of causes and organizations. The more choice, the better!

Year Round Giving and Volunteering

If you are thinking about expanding your programs, consider opening year-round giving and volunteering programs and skills-based volunteerism. Year-round giving programs offer opportunities for employees to give back whenever the urge arises. Year round giving should include pulse points that remind employees to engage or even mini campaigns built around causes that appeal most to the employees. Offer incentives such as matched gifts to encourage involvement.

Growing Emphasis on Volunteerism

Volunteerism continues to evolve as an employee engagement tool. It has become the foundation of most corporate CSR programs. Volunteerism is a great way to get people engaged. Gone are the days of obligatory volunteer cleanup events as transformational volunteerism gains momentum. Transformational volunteerism demonstrates the impact of the volunteer event upon the individual, and they are more likely to volunteer again. These volunteers feel connected to the cause and witness the direct results of their efforts.

America's Charities Snapshot 2015

Keeping these emerging strategies in mind, Steve Greenhalgh, Managing Director of CSR Strategy, offered:

10 Strategies to Jump Start your CSR Programs

1) Assess your current programs. How can you better align your corporate objectives with the passions of your employees?

2) Go year round. Offer your employees the opportunity to give or volunteer whenever they have the urge to give back.

3) Focus and align programs around key cause areas – allowing for personal choice options.

4) Integrate with volunteerism – Expand/enhance volunteer program offerings. Consider offering skills-based volunteerism programs which lead to transformational volunteerism.

5) Utilize employees to help tell your story. Form volunteer committees to lighten your workload while allowing employees to share their passions and causes with their colleagues.

6) Incentivize employee participation (giving and volunteering). Match employee gifts or offer volunteer grants to extend the impact of your employees’ good works.

7) Look for opportunities to move from a transactional model to a transformational model of giving and volunteering. This will lead to better employee engagement and higher participation rates!

8) Assess and modernize your communication strategies. Create Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts associated with your corporate philanthropy programs. Encourage employees to post photos with an associated hashtag. (IE #GDGGives #GDGCares)

9) Maximize your technology. Does your CSR technology platform allow you to communicate effectively with your employees and share content with your stakeholders? Ensure the technology you use inside the walls of the workplace is as appealing to employees as the tools they are accustomed to using outside the workplace to connect and engage with peers, causes, and issues.

10) Innovate– don’t be afraid to try new things.

As Debbie highlighted in the presentation, a CSR professional’s job is to build a reservoir of goodwill about his or her company. As you build upon corporate citizenship success in 2016, evaluate your current programs and consider implementing new initiatives which engage millennials and your stakeholders in a transformational manner. Cheers to a successful 2016 in corporate philanthropy!