Top 10 best practises to launch an impactful CSR programme

Good CSR programmes need a good strategy, including thorough planning, clear communication, active involvement, meaningful collaborations, and adaptability

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes act as a platform where businesses can show their stance about current issues and important values in their communities. They create social value, embed sustainability and foster a collaborative company culture. 

To create successful programmes with lasting impact, you need to make sure you create a comprehensive CSR strategy that includes specific focus areas, programme design, promotion and communication approaches, and evaluation procedures.

10: Put your company values into consideration when building your CSR programme

CSR initiatives should be brand-aligned and connected to operational strategy. This approach would differ for each company and type of industry. For instance, Nestle offers detailed insight into their brand's approach, "Creating Shared Value". This programme includes long-term goals for serving individuals, families, communities, and the planet through its food manufacturing business — such as its goal to help 50 million children lead healthier lives.

09: Be clear and transparent about your CSR goals

Determine the purpose of your CSR activities. Be specific and clear about your CSR programme goals and outcomes, because it will help you and your stakeholders be on the same page and demonstrate your brand's commitment to CSR. Convey key strategies, initiatives, and measurement tactics in precise language. To support this, make a communication plan with clear objectives, audience, subjects and key messages, timescales, channels and feedback support to enhance enthusiasm, engagement, and accountability.

08: Create a programme focused on a global cause

Any CSR programme should be operated with the mindset of tackling global issues. Taking part in a worldwide cause will help you in many ways — it is good for PR, too, but it also means you can study the pre-existing strategies, knowledge, and values shared by researchers, activists, institutions all around the world that have the same concern. For example, many companies align CSR activities with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

07: Make sure your CSR programme is also locally relevant

CSR programmes should be aligned not only to the company's global values but also to local needs of the country, state or even town your offices or sites are in. Learn the big picture first, then find out relevant issues and the appropriate legal structure for your CSR programme, and finally find a local angle. Combine the three, and you will have the perfect base for laying out your CSR objectives.

06: Collect stakeholder insights to inform your CSR programme

Your CSR programme must be effective for your community to make an impact. Knowing what the community needs is a start. To collect this insight, you can do the following:

  • Make a poll for your customers about the issues that matters the most for them.
  • Collect employee feedback to know their preferences and input — this will also make your employees feel heard and valued.
  • Ask stakeholders along your supply chain for their concerns and opinions.
05: Empower and involve your employees in your CSR strategy

Be responsive and inclusive of your team values, and involve your employees in the strategy-building process. Build common suggestions into your CSR strategy. This will foster a sense of purpose and responsibility. Research shows employee empowerment can greatly increase team effectiveness, sense of community, perceptions of management, and employee satisfaction. You can also encourage employees to participate in volunteer activities. Visible executive buy-in will also send a message on its importance.

04: Build CSR partnerships with external parties

Partnership-driven CSR, such as the ones Adidas, IKEA, Apple, and BMW do with community nonprofits, drives more value. Community organisations offer valuable knowledge and firsthand experience to put your brand's CSR assets to best use. For instance, you can invite NGOs and universities to join your CSR Advisory Board or to review the CSR Annual Report. you can also join CSR working groups — aside from establishing good CSR networks. You can also source ideas for future CSR programmes and strategies.

03: Find inspiration from other, successful CSR programmes

Your CSR strategy does not always have to be original. Spend some time researching how other businesses have succeeded in their CSR programmes and how you could adapt them for your company. You can check a list of social responsibility ratings and reports for companies from Harvard Business School's Baker Library or Fortune's Change the World list to get started.

02: Be ready to adapt and improve

CSR is all about communities and people, so it is extremely dynamic. Include a plan for learning, adjustment, and growth in your strategy. Start with a plan for periodic data and feedback collection so you can see the actual progress of your initiative instead of waiting until the programme ends. Assess the data and find a way to incorporate suggestions for improvement. 

01: Have a plan to put reactive CSR programmes into place

In addition to responding to and adapting your CSR goals, you should have the ability to react to world events and circumstances. During the early part of Covid-19 pandemic, a reactive CSR could have been an initiative to help support key workers, helping isolated elderly people or using company resources to help with the education of children from underprivileged households. CSR can be meaningful in the short term, at the right time, and in the right way


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