Having a charitable giving or corporate social responsibility (CSR) program is often seen as strictly for medium to large sized businesses. Although many small business owners would love to contribute to social and environmental causes, the time investment required for building a giving program from scratch can put it far down on the priority list, compared to the everyday pressures of running a business.
Besides, if your business doesn’t have very many employees, how much positive change can you actually bring to the world?
The answer is, in fact, so much more than you think! Every CSR program is a huge step forward to a fairer, more sustainable world, while also bringing many benefits to your small business. Best of all, with the tips we outline below, it’s never been easier to kickstart your own, even with just a handful of employees!
The Benefits For The World
For small businesses, a CSR program is about organising individual charitable acts into a business-wide culture of giving. Pooling your resources in this way is more effective than acting alone, allowing the causes you champion to get more publicity, more resources, and more care and attention. Coming together with other people to give is also a lot of fun, so at the end of each day you’re even more motivated than you were before!
The global benefits for this are obvious: if you can give more energy and funds to not-for-profit organisations, they’ll be able to achieve more. Giving money or some of your time individually is wonderful, of course, but giving as a group is an even more powerful way to rapidly solve environmental and social problems in the world.
The Benefits For Your Business
But giving doesn’t always have to address global problems. Your new CSR program can also be an amazing way to invest in the health and future of your local community, which can have their own set of equality, educational, and environmental struggles!
As many small businesses are deeply rooted in their local community, giving back to the people around you, and forging a connection with them, will help your business flourish too. A healthy, happy, and equal community will be able to spend more, engage more, and support their local businesses better in general.
Other benefits a CSR program can give your business include:
- Bringing employees closer together, by striving towards a common goal. This turns your business into something more like a family, where everyone looks out for each other.
- Higher productivity and lower staff turnover, by increasing employee engagement and overall happiness.
- Positive publicity, by sharing your social values and successes with the wider community.
- More personal satisfaction, by being part of a program that helps the world be a better place. This gives you more energy and more drive to make your business succeed.
- Fewer expenses and greater returns from your resources, by engaging in environmental initiatives such as waste reduction, sourcing of sustainable resources, and clean energy.
Tips to Get Started
If you have a small business that’s looking to grow, there’s never been a better time to start your CSR program. Not only will the program be easier to build and manage while you’re still small, but as the benefits scale with your company, you’ll find that well-intentioned and well-designed CSR programs will actually compound your successes and accelerate your growth.
When your business is ready to dive into the richly rewarding world of social impact, make sure you keep these tips in mind:
- Have a clear idea of where your business excels. One of the best ways to maximise your positive social impact is by simply amplifying what you’re already good at. A business that integrates their CSR program with their existing specialties and skills will provide greater returns for the world and be easier to run.
- Talk to your employees and your customers. These are the people that are passionate about social and environmental change, so it makes sense to ask them what matters most to them!
- Decide what you stand for and what to focus on. No matter how large your company is, there’s simply no way you can champion every local and global project out there. After you’ve identified your business’ strengths and talked to your employees and the community, you’ll then need to decide what matters most to your business, and therefore what you want your CSR program to focus on.
- Monitor your returns. Just as you would keep careful track of inventory, assets, revenue, and the like, so too should you be quantitatively monitoring the output and returns of your CSR program. This way you can see what is and isn’t working, adjust as necessary, and celebrate when you’ve made progress in your fight for social and environmental justice.
- Have fun. At times as a small business with limited resources it might not seem like you’re making much headway with global problems. Try to remember just how valuable your contributions are, and avoid disenchantment or “giving fatigue” by making your fundraising and volunteering activities as fun as possible - for you and your employees.
- Join forces with larger programs. If running a CSR program by yourself is too daunting and too time-consuming for the moment, consider joining forces with larger, already established programs. This can be with other like-minded small businesses in your area, or with online crowdfunding platforms geared towards social impact.
No matter how big your business is, the Copalana crowdfunding ecosystem is an excellent way to engage your employees and give back to the world. Find out how it can help kickstart your CSR program here!