5 Tips for a Thriving CSR Program
During Uncertain Economic Times
Things you can do — big and small — to create social impact in a time of need
It’s been a hard year (plus some!), and now we’re dealing with the possibility of a recession. While economists are predicting it will be mild to moderate, we are also getting other, positive data that puts some question marks on predictions. Amid all this uncertainty, one thing is certain: the current reality could have an impact on your people and their engagement, and things could be tough on our society’s most vulnerable.
At a time when prudence is the need of the hour, you may be thinking of pulling back on your CSR program — it’s important to be cautious with budgets while acknowledging that your people may also be overwhelmed by the current economic uncertainty and what it might mean for them and their families.
However, history shows that your CSR program is the best tool you’ve got to lift everyone up at a time like this — your employees, the communities you care about and your business. Here’s why:
- Even in the most engaged companies, employee sentiment can change during uncertain times. Providing your people with a sense of efficacy, connection and impact during hard times is good for them and your employee engagement and company culture.
- One of the key beneficiaries and stakeholders of any CSR program — nonprofits — also need to step up at a time like this and provide assistance to the people in your community who rely on their services. That means these organizations are counting on your and your people’s support more than ever.
- During this time of need, your employees will likely be looking for more ways to contribute to causes in their local communities. This presents a good opportunity to expand your CSR efforts, as you may see increased levels of engagement from your people, especially during Giving Season, when people open their hearts the most. While giving fatigue may be of concern, it’s of note that during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, Americans actually became more generous to those in need.
- Businesses who not only survive but thrive during tough times will be the ones who build engagement and trust with all stakeholders. During the Great Recession, companies who continued to invest in their programs strengthened their brand awareness and consumer loyalty.
Making an impact doesn’t have to be a heavy lift. Every small action counts. If we each do One Good Thing, we can collectively create massive, exponential impact!
So, here are Five Good Things you can do to help your company, your people and your communities thrive during these uncertain economic times:
1. Lean in to incentives
Even a few dollars are enough to get more people participating. Seeding — putting donation dollars into a Giving Account — is one of the most powerful tools for increasing participation and engagement. And it’s a simple way for companies to help bridge that gap when employees may have less economic power to support causes. Benevity data shows that clients who used seeding had on average 118% higher overall participation than those who didn’t. You can also consider providing volunteer rewards (i.e., giving employees donation dollars for volunteering) for people who may only be able to donate their time, or special matching to help your people support their communities more. Our clients who offer matching have on average 75% higher donor participation compared to companies who don’t.
2. Team up for more impact and efficiency
If you’re an employee engagement lead, join forces with your community investment team and vice versa to see where you can amplify impact or share resources! You may be able to get your people involved in granting decisions by allowing them to nominate their favorite nonprofits. Or, to help inform your community investment strategy, you can use data from your CSR program to better understand where your people are giving and what they care about.
3. Automate where you can
At a time when you want to do more with fewer resources, the right technology can help you automate program administration and save you cash in the long run — an operationally prudent choice! What if processes like payroll giving and donation match requests were automated? It can also cut down manual processes, like using spreadsheets to run your programs or sending paper checks to nonprofits (many of which may go uncashed). You can spend the extra time focusing on what matters — making an impact for all your stakeholders and your business.
4. Empower your employee resource groups (ERGs)
Your ERGs are closest to what your employees care about, and they’re key to keeping your people engaged. They understand the issues that are top of mind for each group, and they have the passion and power to influence their peers in the best possible way. In fact, 50% of employees said they would stay at a company because it offered ERGs. So, you can empower your ERGs — and garner more engagement — by boosting awareness of their initiatives throughout the company, consulting them when selecting which nonprofits to support and providing them with resources to thrive and continue making an impact.
5. Provide multiple ways to get involved
Your people will be most eager to do good from September to December, during Giving Season. With an average of 47% of all charitable giving happening on the Benevity platform during that time, there’s no doubt they will be looking for ways to take action in the coming months. However, not everyone will be able to give during times of inflation, so it’s important that you meet your people where they are by also providing different avenues to participate, like volunteering and small Acts of Goodness — you can even combine both into a single campaign! When your people see that you support them in doing good, it’ll be great for engagement and company culture, too.
So, what will be your company’s One (or two, or three …) Good Thing(s) this Giving Season?!
Above are just a few ideas, and we have no doubt that the passionate purpose pros
out in the world will dream up even more. And that every little thing will have a
significant impact on your people, your communities and your company,
ensuring everyone thrives long afterward.