How to Develop a Corporate Social Responsibility Program — Part 5: The Pitch

In this episode, we discuss Part 5 of developing a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy: presenting your strategy to leadership and executives. We explore the four key steps to take during your presentation and how to be strategic with the timing of your presentation. We also dive into what is and why having a 'pivot" is crucial.

Watch and Read Part 1: Research

Watch and Read Part 2: Articulate

Watch and Read Part 3: Back It Up

Watch and Read Part 4: Advocacy

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Karl Yeh:

Now, I'm joined by Nicole Campbell, CSR expert. We're going to talk about the fifth part of our five-part series on developing a CSR program, which is the pitch phase.

Now, I'm assuming, Nicole, for the pitch phase, you're pitching everything that we've learned from part one all the way to part four, have your advocates in line.

You've got your [00:01:00] data to back you up. What entails this final phase?

I would imagine this is one of the most important parts because now you're pitching to probably executives or leadership in your company, right?

How to pitch your strategy to your business leaders and executives

Nicole Campbell:

So hopefully by this point, though, you've done all of your homework. You've made the relationships that you need to have made.

And now you're just putting it on paper and trying to be really concise in your ask. For me, that's the hardest part.

Sometimes [00:01:30] you want to do these huge slide decks.

But often when you're presenting to leaders about something like social impact, it isn't one of their right now key business priorities, probably not going to get a lot of time to do it.

So you need to be concise, you need to be punchy, and need to be super impactful.

And that's what we're going to be talking about today.

I like to break it down into four steps. Everything is about steps with us, just to frame your thinking.

Step 1: Frame your presentation

The first step is [00:02:00] to frame it.

We talked about that articulation phase before, but essentially really articulating the business need and then presenting the opportunity that exists.

Watch Developing a CSR Strategy: Articulate Phase:


As an example, if you're presenting to that adverse leader that we talked about in video, I think three it was, you might start with the state of the world.

For instance, "There is an erosion of trust in the world right now, and consumers and employees have expectations on [00:02:30] their employers to make this change. This is one of the ways that we can do this through these programs, or this is the benefit that you'll see."

That soft of high line headline that's going to frame this whole conversation and what it means to that.

Step 2: Support your case

The second is to support your case.

And so, this is the back-it-up phase, and this is where you can say:

"In addition to what's happening into the world, these are what our competitors are doing. This is what's happening. This is the external benchmarking. [00:03:00] This is how much people are spending. This is a best-in-class program, and this is how we compare."

You can highlight the opportunities that exist from the actual CSR perspective.

Step 3: How you will implement your program

Then you move into how you're going to do it.

We talked about it in another video, the phases of change, which is logic, emotion, and then ease.

Watch Developing a CSR Strategy: Benchmark Phase


The ease is showing them, we can do this.

Keeping it high level, remembering that you're presenting to executives.

You don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty, where they’re looking on the screen trying to decipher these details that you shouldn’t even be presenting at a meeting like this.

[00:03:30] But high level action plan:

"This is what it's going to take money wise. This is when it's going to be done. These are the steps that will need to take place."

Step 4: What are the next steps?

And then following with proposing your next steps, so what is the immediate next steps and what is the call to action for those leaders.

Sometimes they [00:04:00] don't really know what their role is, so be really clear with that ask.

Say, "We're looking for an approval. We're looking for budget. We're looking for support."

Be sure to have a “pivot” ready

Be ready, be ready that they might say no.

If they do say no, in your back pocket, think about a pivot that you might make.

So maybe you can test whatever you're trying to do on a certain region to demonstrate the value of whatever you're specifically proposing for your CSR program. [00:04:30]

But have that backup plan in mind if they do say no at that point.

The other thing I should say too, less is more.

Sometimes if you have too much information it can get people going down a rabbit hole.

And when you only have say 30 minutes, maybe 45 to present this, you don't want that conversation to digress.

Keep your slides to a minimum. I mean, if you can do this in five or six slides, you're going to be laughing. [00:05:00]

Anticipate objections.

So go in there with everything that you can ever imagine them anticipating, so for instance, really knowing what your budget projections would be like to implement something like this, understanding the data that supports this case, even more than you have on a screen.

That goes to the research, know your stuff.

Pre-send your presentation

Never introduce more information that is on those slides, and make sure you always send the deck as a pre-read [00:05:30] so people can go through it, and you can have a better conversation.

So PDF that, give it to them at weekend in notice, or find out what their preference is.

And then I must reiterate to have a clear ask.

Sometimes you do this amazing presentation and everyone's applauding, and then they say, "Okay, so what do you want from us?"

And then you go, "I didn't even think that I'd get that far. I don't have my ask."

So make sure you know exactly what it is that you're asking.

I wish you luck. It's very exciting. Once you're at this point, it's like [00:06:00] you're almost there.

What are you expectations from the presentation?

Karl Yeh:

In your experience, when you've done these pitches and presentations, do you normally get a positive and, "Hey, let's move forward," or do you sometimes get the,

"Maybe we need more information."

If you've done your research, if you've done every single phase correctly, what is the more likely outcome?

Or is that [00:06:30] too difficult to answer?

Nicole Campbell:

No, that's a great question.

I've seen people go in, or I've heard of people going in and pitching something without bringing people along the journey.

It's all about the advocacy and the research and that constant conversation throughout that's going to make you successful.

Watch Developing a CSR Strategy: Research Phase


Watch Developing a CSR Strategy: Advocacy Phase


Because by the time you actually make this presentation, you would already have a gut feel on where people stand.

It might just be about how much money they want to give you to do this.

Those are the [00:07:00] conversations that might happen in that meeting.

But if you do it, if you do that approach that we've shared, there should be no surprises.

If you, in the earlier phases, the earliest steps start having these conversations and

you can sense there’s apprehension, you should be solving for that way before you start pitching.

You might not be able to do that alone, you might need to find an advocate or sponsor to help fight this case for you, that's at a more senior level.

But at that point, [00:07:30] that's when you should figure those things out.

Try a pilot program first?

Karl Yeh:

When I've been pitching big programs and projects in marketing and so on, I always lead it in with, "I'd like to try this pilot program."

Because the moment I include the word pilot, especially for maybe when you're talking with a risk-adverse person, that kind of decreases the risk. Because it's like, "Oh, it's only a pilot."

But is there a danger that people won't be taking your program seriously if you pitch it just as a pilot?

Nicole Campbell:

[00:08:00] So I say don't start with the pilot, unless you sense that apprehension, then default to the pilot. I think the other reason too, is when you're only getting in a meeting with these folks once a quarter, it's just going to slow you down.

So I say have the pilot as a backup, or if you're feeling apprehension in the earlier conversations, then pitch it as a pilot.

But it's harder to take leaps and bounds from a pilot [00:08:30] versus scaling back from the initial pitch to a pilot.

Karl Yeh:

So Nicole, do you have anything else to add in terms of the pitch section for developing a CSR program?

Be strategic with the timing of your presentation

Nicole Campbell:

Yeah. One thing that I think is often, or sometimes, [00:09:00] overlooked is really thinking about the timing of your pitch.

Make sure that you understand what's going on in the business, so you are not white noise.

As an example, if you have a merger or acquisition that's happening and your leaders are so focused on something like that, or big layoffs that are happening or something that's happening with the business that you might not know about, they might not be able to listen the same way as they would if you waited for the right timing.

So make sure you do that as part of your research step as well.

Question for you

The question of the day I have for you is, have you ever pitched in front of the executives and leaderships to get your CSR program going? How did it go? 

If you want to learn all the phases of starting a CSR program, you got to check out this playlist here, as well as this playlist on other strategies and tactics on developing and growing your goodness and CSR program.

Thank you very much for watching ,and we'll see you in our next episode.

The Social Impact Show publishes new content weekly so check back regularly for the latest information, strategies and tips from CSR experts. 


About Nicole Campbell:

Nicole’s passion for behavioral science plays a key role in her ability to help organizations manage and adapt to change. 

Nicole has worked with companies of all sizes, industries, program varieties, and varying levels of executive support — and has had a hand in designing or growing Social Impact programs for some of the biggest brands out there. Her role, working with so many different companies, has provided her with a wealth of experience, data and anecdotes that have shaped a strong understanding of what works, what doesn’t and what’s next.