Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a cornerstone of business strategy. The Global Fortune 500 companies alone spend nearly $20 billion each year on CSR activities – this is because they recognise the direct impact it has on improving community engagement.
And with good reason. Effective social responsibility strategies have a serious impact on businesses’ bottom lines. CSR increases investor appeal, improves employee satisfaction, and boosts revenue. In fact, companies with the best CSR strategies generate 19x higher returns than their competitors and can potentially increase revenue by up to 20%.
These tangible business results are a major motivator for businesses’ increasing investment in CSR. But, one of the biggest drivers behind the rise in CSR is actually about improving community engagement and winning the hearts of customers in an increasingly socially-conscious era.
Your customers care about your CSR strategy
Over the last decade, consumers have taken a stand against detrimental business practices. They’ve started voting with their purses by only doing business with companies that care about social good. A staggering 94% of consumers say it’s important for companies they engage with to have a strong purpose and 80% want businesses to help solve society’s problems.
This means it’s now not enough to be purpose-driven. You have to demonstrate your purpose through meaningful action. And you need to back it up with real results. 81% of consumers say they might stop using your brand if you make a misleading pledge to social causes. So it’s important to make sure your social impact campaigns actively contribute to the betterment of society.
Creating a CSR programme that will engage your customers
So how exactly can you create a CSR programme that won’t take a ton of resources, will have a positive effect on society, and will also delight your customers?
One of the easiest and most effective approaches is to fund non-profits that serve the local communities relevant to your business. Non-profit giving generates a high return on CSR investments because:
- There’s little time commitment on your part.
- A high percentage of your investment goes directly to front line impact.
- Local non-profits are already well-positioned and ready to address social and environmental challenges.
- These organisations are really good at making funds go a long way and creating change with shoestring budgets.
If you choose a cause (or causes) that your customers care about and invite them to be part of the process, you’ll find they interact with your business more, spend more money with you, and often become brand advocates.
Here are some tips on creating a CSR strategy that will engage your customers.
- Choose a cause that matters to your customers and your business. Some areas to think about are Food Action, Education, Employment, Poverty and Homelessness, and Mental Health. If you’re not sure which causes your customers care most about, consider surveying them to find out.
- Allocate funds. These funds may come from your current marketing budget. If you don’t yet have money you can invest here, then put together a product-based fundraising campaign. For example, pick one of your most popular products and donate a portion of the sales for every purchase. Don’t forget to promote this to your customers so they can support your fundraising efforts.
- Find non-profits that are already doing meaningful work aligned with your chosen cause. You can involve your customers in the decision-making process by letting them nominate or vote for the organisations they care about.
- Think local. Supporting local communities creates great local PR opportunities, strengthens brand reputation with local stakeholders, and enhances the lives of your team members living local. So be sure to look for non-profits that serve the communities where your people live and where you do business.
- Track the impact. After you fund a project (or projects), follow their work and track the impact. Ask the non-profits you fund to share updates, photos, or videos about the project. All the better if you can find out how many people your funds helped.
- Communicate with your customers every step of the way. The only way your customers can engage with your campaign is if you share it with them. Publish it in your newsletter. Highlight it on your website. Announce it on your social channels. This checklist contains some great tips on proactively communicating your social impact.
A great CSR campaign in action
One of our favourite examples of customer-engaged non-profit giving is Greene King’s Proud To Pitch In campaign.
Launched in 2021, Proud To Pitch In provides cash grants of around £3,000 to grassroots sports clubs across the UK. To date, Greene King has given more than £500,000 to 100 projects.
The marketing team at Greene King strategically planned this campaign to have maximum impact with their customers and to improve community engagement.
- They started by surveying customers to identify the cause they cared about. The survey revealed that local sports matter a lot to their communities.
- The campaign involves Greene King customers in the fundraising process by donating 10p from every pint and 50p from every 4-can pack of Greene King IPA sold.
- Customers can also apply for grants for their own sports clubs, or nominate their favourite teams as recipients.
And because Greene King runs the whole campaign through ActionFunder, they can easily track, share, and celebrate their impact. So far, the campaign has benefited more than 18,000 local people.
The Proud to Pitch in Campaign has significantly increased sales of Greene King IPA since launching. Numerous media outlets have covered the campaign. And the public has been highly receptive. It’s a great example of a CSR campaign done right!
The easiest way to make non-profit giving part of your CSR strategy
Making non-profit giving part of your CSR strategy is easier than you might expect.
ActionFunder is a business-to-community giving platform that cuts the time and cost of local giving by 75%. You can find, fund, and follow community action in three simple steps.
- Create your own community fund: Set your business’s and/or customers’ location. Choose your causes. Then get automatically matched with non-profits in your area.
- Select and fund projects: Manage your fund through your dashboard. Collect written or video applications. Let your customers and employees vote on which projects to fund.
- Capture and celebrate your impact: Get updates, stories, and photos from the projects you fund. Download data-rich impact reports so you can share and celebrate your impact with stakeholders inside and outside your organisation.
Find out how ActionFunder can amplify your customer engagement programme. Get a no-obligation demo of the platform.
Note: image from Braunton FC, a non-profit funded by Greene King