CSR Volunteering: Take the Time to Give Back


Times are changing, and companies aren’t just about profits anymore. Many successful organizations have implemented some sort of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program among their standard policies, and for good reason. Both the public and the business can reap great benefits. In particular, CSR volunteering is a highly effective way to give back to the community while boosting business at the same time.

Why take on the extra expense of CSR volunteering?

When a CSR volunteering program is implemented, you’re paying your employees to assist the community at large. Other expenses, such as lunch, supplies, and transportation, may be factors as well. However, instead of viewing your project as an expense, think of it as a long-term investment in your brand image.

Nowadays, a tremendous number of consumers will have some measure of social awareness when making their buying decisions. They want to support companies that create a mutually beneficial relationship with the community. By developing a public-facing corporate image that’s readily connected with generosity, benevolence, and compassion, you’ll steadily drive more consumers to choose your brand over others.

Choosing CSR volunteering over other programs

Harvard Business Review classifies CSR into three main theaters. The first area focuses on philanthropy, such as donating to nonprofits, establishing scholarships, and arranging volunteer projects. The second theater involves supporting your employees through internal programs like childcare, educational programs, and improving working conditions. The third is about transforming the business model on a large scale through vast social changes, such as establishing micro-finance loans and fair trade programs with overseas suppliers.

There are many reasons that volunteering may be the best choice. It’s perhaps the most direct way to present a positive brand image to the public. When people see your volunteers in shirts, caps, and other gear adorned with your company logo, they will naturally associate your brand with good works. Allowing your volunteers to keep these items as thanks for their help will create an ongoing positive image for your company since the employees will continue wearing them with pride. Be sure to include a few details about the project along with your logo and brand name.

A submission management software can help you manage requests for help from the community or employee updates.

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Which CSR volunteering projects are best?

While any program that helps others is a good choice, you’ll want to lean toward ideas that align with your brand and industry. If you operate a construction company, allocating workers to help build low-cost homes or repair houses for underprivileged families is a good match. Supermarkets and restaurants can send volunteers to build garden boxes for local families. Planting trees is a natural for landscaping firms.

Highly visible projects, such as road cleanup near a busy highway, are excellent and accessible ways to improve your community and increase your brand exposure to the public. Bright orange work vests with your company logo can remind hundreds of motorists and pedestrians of your corporate mission. Large-scale painting projects are a similarly effective (and fun) idea.

Sometimes it’s best to allow your employees to choose their own CSR volunteering projects. This helps align the first CSR theater with the second—since it’s a definite employee perk that they can devote paid time to an ideology they believe in. It’s a little more challenging to track the hours they spend on such projects, but it’s worthwhile to provide employees the freedom to choose. You could also have employees vote to pick the project you all invest in together.

Investing in CSR volunteering and other community-enhancing projects is rewarding in many ways. Not only are you taking the time to give back to those who support your business, you’re also encouraging them to return over and over again so your company can thrive and your community support can continue to grow.

Sarah Aswell
Sarah Aswell

Sarah Aswell is an editor and content strategist at Submittable. She’s also a writer and stand-up comedian who gets rejected via Submittable all the time. You can read her comedy criticism at Forbes, follow her on Twitter, or learn more about her creative work on her website.