Your 2010 CSR New Year's Resolution

It’s time to make your commitment to upgrading your company’s CSR program for 2010 and beyond.

Not so long ago, CEOs used company money (that is, shareholders’ dollars) to make financial contributions to their pet charities. Not so long ago, company volunteerism meant simple, random events organized among a handful of employees. Today, corporate giving can be a highly strategic element of the company’s mega-plan for corporate social responsibility (CSR), designed to benefit communities and the company. For companies at the forefront, CSR is on the agenda of the boards of directors.

How did CSR become so significant? First, companies see that it’s in their interests to advance economic and community development, education, healthcare, the arts, and social justice, among others. Second, businesses are noticing the few billion new customers at the “bottom of the pyramid.” And third, companies that lead the way in CSR are featured in the media and on major platforms like the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

In having worked with companies during these past two decades to help them to establish their foundations, philanthropic strategies, and CSR programs, I can tell you what works best in the interests of communities and your shareholders. Here are the four strategies that must be part of your 2010 CSR New Year’s resolution if you want to have a high-impact program:

  1. Create a purpose for your CSR program that is aligned with your corporate mission--identify the social or economic challenge that you seek to address, and how you will apply your company’s resources and brand to help solve the problem. (examples: Western Union, Genzyme, Clifford Chance, and Goldman-Sachs)
  2. Create partnerships with organizations that will help you achieve success. (examples: Nike with partners, and Moody’s with Kiva and SIAM. Glimmer of Hope is also an example, although it’s a private foundation, not a company.)
  3. Establish a system to measure progress, and adjust your strategy as needed.
  4. Communicate about your program and your progress, both internally and externally.

2010 can be the year when you move your CSR to the forefront.

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