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Creating a social responsibility initiative that’s aligned with your brand

In recent years, it’s only become more and more difficult to deny how critical it is for every company to have a CSR (corporate social responsibility) edge.

Simply put, it matters to consumers and can also help to solidify a company’s overarching brand. According to Fabrik Brands, “many businesses have found that CSR helps them to identify their brand purpose and create a personality that their customers can connect with on a deeper level.

According to one study by the Reputation Institute, 42% of how a person feels about a company is based on their knowledge of that firm’s CSR definition.”

“Definition” is a broad range that can encompass a company’s mission statement, how they give back financially, volunteer or pro bono hour requirements for employees, or otherwise.

The importance of this is simply in the need to do something social responsibility-geared to establish deeper trust with your target audience and further solidify your brand.

Consider the following tips to create a CSR that’s naturally aligned with your brand and give back while building deeper trust with your customer base.

Ask yourself what authentically matters to you as a founder

If you’ve created your company and brand from a place of alignment, it will naturally follow that what matters to you as a person or a founder will have a clear relationship to the value proposition of your company.

Say, for example, that you own a gardening company, and you naturally have a passion for sustainability and compost. These two elements align in a way that makes sense for a consumer. 

Ask yourself why you got into your business to begin with. What good were you hoping to serve? How can you apply your talents, skill sets, and your team’s strengths to benefit the world from a social responsibility standpoint?

This may take some brainstorming, but one thing is for sure: people can always tell if someone’s initiatives and intentions come from the heart. This authenticity will give your CSR that extra edge.

Relate a CSR initiative to your industry and a need 

Every industry has the potential for a social responsibility initiative. There will always be a group of people or a cause to serve. Here’s the key: if customers or clients are investing in your business, that shows where their values lie. They’re more likely to view you positively and continue investing if your initiative is also in this industry and serving a need that people can get behind.

One such example is eviivo, an all-in-one booking suite in the travel industry. In the light of COVID-19, eviivo created a #staylocal2021 campaign in lieu of their annual holiday party. To support the hotels and B&B’s their booking suite supports, they re-allocated the funds from the holiday party to provide for a night of stay accommodations for employees.

But they didn’t stop there: the purpose of the campaign was to encourage other companies to do the same, supporting independent hotels and B&B’s in the process. 

This proved to customers that eviivo truly cares about the hotels and B&B’s they feature and support on their booking suite, which adds an extra element of trust. And, from a strategy perspective, creating a timely (COVID-19 based) CSR initiative within the same industry simply made sense. This brand alignment created a win-win-win for all involved.

Partner with companies or nonprofits that share similar values

If you’re a smaller startup and you don’t have the capacity to build out a full initiative, consider joining forces with other nonprofits or foundations that do work related to your industry.

This piece of advice doesn’t just apply to smaller companies, though. This might be a way to go on your CSR front if there’s a cause you’re especially passionate about, and the way the foundation is going about serving specifically stands out to you. 

An example of this is GSK’s partnership with Save the Children. GSK is a healthcare pharmaceutical company, and Save the Children is a global nonprofit, considered today’s leading humanitarian organization for children.

Together, they’ve treated over 125,000 children for diseases like  malaria and pneumonia, and helped over 108,000 children during and after emergencies.

In addition to the significant work that’s been done, this partnership is an example of how large corporations can give back in a way that’s aligned with the work they do, without allocating manpower or time to do it. In many cases, putting your money where your mouth is is enough. 

If you’re feeling called to build a social responsibility initiative, look to local nonprofits you respect, or think through corporations that tug at your team’s heartstrings. Let that passion drive you to commit a certain percentage of your profits or team up for an event or fundraiser.

However you go about your own CSR, ensure that alignment comes first. There’s always a chance that the lines could get blurred and customers could get confused if you create an initiative that’s out of alignment or in a totally different industry.

The opportunity to do good, and to build trust and brand cohesion through these processes, is too powerful to pass up.