Why does my business need a CSR plan?

Corporate Social Responsibility. It’s a term most businesses are familiar with, but many don’t understand its importance or appreciate the outcomes it could generate.

Businesses can take on CSR in a manner of ways – charities are often looking for businesses to choose them as their ‘charity of the year’ meaning donations are made over 12 months via sponsorship of marketing materials and events or challenges undertaken on the charity’s behalf to raise money for a specific campaign. Equally, CSR could be something as simple as donating unwanted or unused materials to a local community project.

There are many options available and it can feel like a minefield trying to choose. An easy way to navigate through so many good causes is to select a project or charity that has a real significance either for yourselfor a member of your team. This way you guarantee internal buy in which drives and motivates everyone to give up their time to make a difference to other people’s lives.

The first benefit of meeting a CSR objective is of course that you’ve just supported an excellent cause, be it by donating money, time or materials. But it is also an opportunity to tell people what you have done – this helps to develop your business messages and profile but also helps spread the word further about the charity you’ve supported.

Utilise your social media platforms by sharing donation pages, informing your followers on your progress and the difference you’ve made to your specific cause. Include news about your CSR objectives in press releases and make it clear who you’re supporting on your website with mutual links on both yours, and the beneficiary’s pages.

CSR is an often forgotten element of public relations; companies often do donate to charity, do take part in challenges and do give their time to local causes – they just forget to tell anyone. For those who are shy about sharing their success, remember it’s not just your name you’re shouting about. Thecharity, cause or project also gets its profile raised which in turn increases their potential of generating more support through volunteers and funds.

May Day saw the Ilkley Carnival return to the town with a Yorkshire Tour theme. Schoolchildren from all over Ilkley took part in the parade and the arenas saw performances from cycling stunt professionals and musicians entertainingover 10,000 people.

Each element of the carnival is organised by a committee made up of volunteers from businesses in the local community who donate their time, skills and contacts to plan the annual event. As all end proceeds are split between a chosen main beneficiary and other local good causes, a key element of the event planning is getting the word out to potential supporters, sponsors and visitors – which is where public relations comes in.

Approach PR supports the Ilkley Carnival as part of its CSR commitment, meaning the national and regional news coverage and management of the carnival’s social media profiles is undertaken without budget. The heightened level of online engagement and a footfall increase since 2013 of 2,000 visitors is proof enough that a CSR plan can not only increase the feel-good factor within a business, but also raise the profile – and contribute towards the success - of the cause.

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