What is Corporate Social Responsibility?


Gone are the days in which corporations exist solely to make a profit. While that is still quite a top priority, businesses are now focusing a lot on corporate social responsibility, which is also the way a company deals with its environmental and social impacts. Corporate social responsibility has become, according to a recent study by Cone Communications, an expected part of a corporation’s mission.

“Corporations that disregard this consumer-demanded role risk more than their reputation – nine-in-10 global citizens say they would boycott if they learned of irresponsible behaviors.” (Cone Communications)

Corporate social responsibility programs help benefit society and help a corporation’s public perception. There are various examples of CSR programs, including Buy One Give One, environmental “green” support, and charitable giving programs such as matching gift and volunteer grant programs.

Buy One Give One

Buy One Give One is a type of program well known through Tom’s Shoes – when you buy a pair of shoes from Tom’s, Tom’s will in turn donate a pair to a child in in need.

Another great example of BOGO is SOLVE Sunglasses.  For every pair of sunglasses purchased, this Charleston-based company will provide one person with clean water for life (they are partnered with a charity called Water Missions International). These are a couple of examples of just one type of corporate social responsibility.

Environmental Support

Think of a massive corporation like Bank of America. In 2011 alone, Bank of America has provided $ 3.6 million to address climate change, and in 2007, it launched a program that would reimburse U.S.-based employees $ 3,000 if they purchased a hybrid vehicle. Companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard boast no-waste programs that ensure their consumers that the products they purchase can all be recycled and reused, and they even participate in charitable giving campaigns that allow consumers to give second-hand computers to those in need.

Corporate Giving Programs

Thousands of companies across the nation (and many worldwide) provide programs that give monetary donations to eligible nonprofit organizations through another channel of corporate social responsibility – this one a bit more financially direct.

Matching Gift Programs

These are charitable giving programs in which a corporation will match a donation made by an employee to an eligible charitable organization.

Most corporations will provide a 1:1 donation match, meaning if an employee gives a $ 100 donation to a health services nonprofit organization, then the company will in turn provide a $ 100 donation, thereby doubling the initial donation. Matching gift programs vary; some corporations might even match at a 3:1 ratio, and others might match up to $ 50,000! The types and thresholds of matching gift programs differ depending on the company in question.

Volunteer Grants

This is another type of charitable giving program in which the corporation will provide a monetary grant to a nonprofit organization with which its employees volunteer. Some companies provide a per hour grant ($ 10 per hour volunteered), while others provide a threshold ($ 250 once an employee has volunteered 20 hours). This is a perfect example of how a company will not only work hard to better the community it resides in, but also incentivizes its employees to partake in charitable work.

Bottom line: There are many types of Corporate Social Responsibility programs.  These four are the most common employed by companies today, but what’s most important is whether or not your company is acting in a socially responsible manner.

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