Tugging on the heartstrings

Corporate Social Responsibility CSRCorporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an important part of many companies’ core values. Putting something back, whether it is through allowing staff to take part in volunteering programmes as part of their work, donating to charities or helping out in the local community, can have a huge impact not only on morale and motivation, but also on how stakeholders view a business.

Many of our Public Relations campaigns involve maximising media coverage of CSR activities.  However, it can be difficult for a company to decide exactly where it should spend its resources.  Here are some tips that could help businesses to get the most out of their CSR.

  1. Link your CSR to your core values

It may sound obvious, but the CSR activities that you embark upon need to complement your core values.   Large organisations are often inundated with requests from individuals and organisations, many of which may be very worthy causes.  Acknowledge that you cannot help everyone and consider all requests carefully, making sure that any that are put forward really do align with your core values.  These could be things like supporting projects that have a positive environmental impact, causes that help young people or activities that benefit the local community in an area.

  1. Form a CSR committee

It makes sense to form a CSR committee, that way a company cannot get too sidetracked with supporting their particular interests or what tugs on the heart strings of any one individual.  If your organisation receives dozens of CSR requests, it is worth holding a bi-monthly or quarterly meeting to discuss the merits of each case and deciding as a committee on those that are most worthwhile.

  1. Avoid donating to private individuals where it does not benefit any other

Occasionally you may be contacted by a very ‘needy’ individual who has a strong case to make why they need a donation towards buying their first motorbike or set of tools.  They may have genuine reasons, but you need to consider whether giving to an individual will have any wider impact and any benefit to your organisation, the wider community or any of your stakeholders.  If the answer is no, then their request should be politely declined.  As a rule of thumb, it is good practice not to give to private individuals who are requesting support for their own needs.

  1. Assess what PR mileage can be gained from the activity

In every case, you and your committee should consider what Public Relations mileage can be gained from donating to a particular cause or activity.  If you are working with a PR company like Dragonfly PR that has lots of experience in managing PR campaigns for CSR projects, then we would be able to advise on what potential media coverage could be gained and if the activity could be used to positively influence stakeholders.   If after considering this, there is no real PR mileage from the activity, it is usually a strong reason to refuse an application for use of the CSR budget.  The best CSR activities are those that can be spoken about, written about in the press, used on social media and on your website, creating a strong newsworthy story that portrays your organisation in a positive light.

  1. Take a long term view

If you embark on a relationship with a community group or charity where you agree to sponsor or donate to them, it is always worth investigating the long term benefits that can be gained for both parties.

What you really want is an opportunity that gives you numerous opportunities for media coverage throughout the year – and this also gives additional mileage on social media.  Many companies choose to have a ‘nominated’ charity as it means they can focus their efforts on that cause and maximise their impact.  It also means they can let other good causes down gently by informing them that they have a nominated charity and asking them to get in touch at a certain time of the year when this is going to be reviewed.   The merits of getting involved with a charity should be taken on a case-by-case basis and it is important to use a totally impartial scoring system which marks them on specific pointers that again relates back to your core values.

  1. Spend your money wisely where it will have the biggest impact

Don’t spread yourself too thinly.  You may have a fairly large CSR budget, however, this can soon be taken up if you commit to too many smaller donations.  For example, it is sometimes better to give away to a smaller number of medium size donations, rather than lots of really small ones.  The thinking is, if you spread yourself and your budget too thinly, it will have little impact.  For example, you may be asked for donations of £25 or £50 to local sports clubs, or to sponsor a prize at a local show.  There’s nothing wrong with this, but from a media point of view, it would have little impact.  We would advise giving away around four large donations, evenly spread throughout the year.  For example, you may choose to donate £1,000 to help a local community centre to carry out essential refurbishment work or towards a local hospice looking to landscape its gardens.   Larger projects like these can give you significant PR mileage for a longer period, so it essential to consider wisely where your budget should be spent.

And finally, if you would like help with maximising your CSR impact, through an effective, PR,online and social media campaign, call the Dragonfly PR team on 01709 300130 or emailhello@dragonflypr.co.uk.

Call us on: 0114 349 5341