Top executive leaders recognize that business is about more than the bottom line. Today, it’s also about doing good in the communities where they do business. Each year, 85% of S&P 500 companies publish a corporate social responsibility report. The reports highlight how those companies’ business practices have a positive impact on society.

By understanding the basics of corporate social responsibility, you – like many of the world’s top companies – can leverage your enterprise to do good.

Corporate social responsibility: It makes sense and cents!

Corporate social responsibility enables enterprises to do good in the community while finding innovative ways to meet their objectives. For instance, a company that’s mindful of its energy usage protects the environment and saves money on utilities.

Strategic community partnerships enable enterprises to build phenomenal brand recognition. Socially oriented practices also allow companies to promote long-term profitability. As it turns out, doing good is a highly effective way to connect with constituents.

The following are five ways that business leaders can boost brand awareness by practising social responsibility.

1. Support Community Causes for social responsibility

When corporations partner with nonprofit organizations, both entities benefit from cause-related marketing (CRM) that boosts the company’s sales and supports the organization’s cause. CRM relationships are a great deal for nonprofits. The arrangement enables organizations to increase fundraising and gain exposure.

However, executives must select the causes that they support carefully. For a successful CRM initiative, it’s a good idea to work with a group that understands how to market themselves and how to build a substantial following.

“Designing for the Greater Good: The Best of Nonprofit and Cause-Related Marketing and Nonprofit Design” is an excellent book about corporate-nonprofit partnerships. It can show you how commercial organizations have successfully aligned their objectives with nonprofit groups.

2. Don’t Just Throw Money at a Cause – Get Involved

Volunteer time off (VTO) program is an employer-sponsored benefit where employees are paid to volunteer for a nonprofit group. Companies typically partner with one or more specific groups and designate what opportunities are available for the VTO program. Several studies show that volunteer time off programs benefit corporations greatly.

Today’s generation of workers places a high value on volunteerism. Organizations that offer VTO benefits attract passionate, talented workers who align well with their corporate culture.

3. Participate in Community Reinvestment Authority (CRA) Initiatives

Enterprises can also reap tax benefits by participating in projects that promote public welfare. Legislators in Ohio, for instance, have enacted the Ohio Job Creation Tax Credit as well as established enterprise zones and community reinvestment areas. Businesses there and in other states can also take advantage of rural business development grants through the United States Department of Agriculture.

Community Reinvestment Authority initiatives award tax incentives to banks that lend money for projects that benefit low-income populations, small businesses and farms. For example, companies can use CRA loans for:

    • Agriculture
    • Community or tribal childcare
    • Economic development
    • Education
    • Health initiatives
    • Small business financing
    • Social services
    • Other causes that support underrepresented groups

Community development loans, for instance, are remarkably large projects. They’re for companies that qualify for the Small Business Administration’s 504 certified development company program and provide access to loans of more than $1 million.

4. Earmark a Portion of Profits for Community Causes

Today’s consumers and employees want more than goods and services. They want brands that promote the betterment of society.

You can fulfil this desire by dedicating a percentage of your profits to a charitable cause. Consumers who patronize your business will benefit from knowing the good or service that they’ve purchased goes towards helping others.

For instance, you could earmark 2% of all profits to a scholarship program. While that’s a small amount, every cent makes a difference for struggling students.

5. Going Green for Good

Green companies protect people and the environment. The Green America “Green Business Certification” honours companies that meet specific criteria that promote corporate social and environmental responsibility. Companies that make a stand for green causes tackle challenging issues such as:

    • Community development
    • Community Health
    • Economic justice
    • Social justice
    • Sustainability

Most importantly, green employers ensure that all employees are paid a living wage and work in safe environments.

Whatever social corporate responsibility strategy that you choose, it should align with the beliefs, objectives and values of your enterprise. Also, your CSR strategy should not strain company resources or fall outside the scope of its capabilities.

By sharing your corporate responsibility strategy with employees, partners and other stakeholders, you can leverage your business to make the world a better place for everyone.

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Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.