Three critical questions to ask about your CSR programs

According to one expert, if your CSR program doesn’t promote shared experiences, it’s set to fail.

According to Peter Baines – founder of Hands Across the Water and author of Doing Good by Doing Good – an easy way to assess the effectiveness of your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program is to ask a random selection of your team the following questions:
  • Can you name those who benefit from our CSR program?
  • What is the commitment we make to the community?
  • What is the change that has occurred as a result of our commitment?
“If your team don’t mention themselves or the company you work for in their answer to the first question, your current program is not effective,” said Baines. “If their response to the second question is “the company matches my donation and gives me a day off a year to volunteer”, I would suggest your program is set to fail.”

Baines suggested that CSR programs should create shared experiences, with an alignment between the values of the organisation and those who the program supports.

To make your CSR program a success for all involved, said Baines, there are a number of points to consider:
  • What experiences are we creating that allow our team members to engage with our partners?
  • What are we doing beyond donating money?
  • What change occurs with our charity partner as a result of our relationship?
  • Do we satisfy the ‘but for test’ – where the change achieved by the CSR commitment would not have occurred without the company’s support?
  • What is the true cost of our program?
  • What is the ROI we are making?
“An effective CSR program doesn’t have to be complex, and it doesn’t have to consume great resources to execute, but it does require more than a fleeting commitment once a year when a cheque is cut,” said Baines. “When you get it right, there will be a positive return to your business. You will see greater engagement, positive staff retention, increased morale, new business opportunities leading to innovation, and growth through shared value.”

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