CSR vs Giving back

Parsons CSR Report Update 2015

The Middle East is a region of diversity, with people from multicultural backgrounds. Despite the differences, there is one strong trait common in most people in the region: the spirit of giving and helping others. Whether it is on an individual basis or at a community level, it is strongly pronounced and regularly practiced. But not all good acts are made for the same reasons. How can we distinguish today an act of giving back or supporting a particular cause from the hunger for publicity and fame?

A lot of companies run regular CSR events and have dedicated teams that take care of such initiatives. Some causes are being overly supported as they get more publicity every year, breast cancer awareness for example. But when it comes to giving, is it ethical enough to support popular causes or should it be about making the difference?

For more than 14 years, Active has been running multiple CSR campaigns for its clients in the Middle East.  In the meantime, it offers free PR services to such nonprofit organizations as Shukran Workers and Team Angel Wolf and knows what mistakes companies shouldn’t be making when it comes to giving.

  1. Make the difference!

Don’t just talk about your good deed and commitment, message the bottom line that you expect from your efforts. Is this the cause that really requires more support from the community? Whether  it is sustainability or underprivileged children, do more than just one event a year showing how responsible you are. The end result should be better awareness about the cause amongst the target community and not the greatness and generosity of your organization.

  1. Keep it relevant to your business as much as possible

It is absolutely normal for companies to participate or run initiatives that are less relevant to the origin of their business. But do you really want to tell the world that your business supported a local cat shelter, while your main focus should be on sustainability? Should a local retail bank for instance shout out about a free lunch they offered to 1,000 construction workers, or should they make an emphasis on free financial planning seminars they have organized for local SMEs? It is important to stay consistent and be associated with the cause that relates to your business the most. You should also make sure the news you promote is tied into an overall strategy. If you don’t have a CSR strategy, get one.

  1. Contribute as a team and not just as an entity!

If you decided to support particular causes or participate in bigger initiatives that are supported by many, don’t just do it to tick it off. Make sure that the whole company is aware, message it properly internally and get as many employees and stakeholders involved. Whether a beach clean-up or food baskets for underprivileged people, allow your team to take a physical rather than financial part in it. It will reflect positively on the culture of the organization, build the spirit of unity internally and will appear as genuine in the media. It will also offer another great opportunity for the company under the form of social media content that can be shared and promoted.

No matter what the company does and what cause it decides to support, there is always a chance for any CSR activity to go wrong. If anything at all goes wrong with your CSR initiative, be as honest and transparent as possible. Hiding in the era of digital technologies, when news gets spread with the speed of light, will not serve you well.