Responsible businesses have been rallying for weeks as we battle COVID-19. Apparel companies pivoted to making face masks, distilleries are making hand sanitizer and auto manufacturers rushed to create much needed ventilators. In a sense we’re seeing a new era of responsible business. But serving the communities where companies do business isn’t a new concept. Whether you call it corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship or just doing good business, these acts of kindness have been a part of the social landscape for decades. And while we’re seeing a new form of that unfold as we respond to the pandemic, there’s no time like the present to think about having a social impact strategy for your company or place of business. In a post COVID-19 world it’ll be more than expected.
But before you start serving the community, it’s a good practice to form a strategy. Having a strategy will help you navigate the complexities of addressing critical social and environmental issues while also strengthening your company’s brand reputation and long-term vitality. Here are some actions to get you well on your way to creating a social impact program.
1) Take inventory of your resources who can act as volunteers.
2) Align community service with a local or national goal
While it’s great to think through goals tied to what you’d like to achieve in terms of engagement (i.e. percentage of employees volunteering, dollars donated and hours served) It’s always best to also align your goals with those that exist beyond the walls of your business. Doing so will ensure your achievements ladder to those being collectively achieved by other organizations, businesses and government agencies in the same community.
This is an opportunity to connect with local city, county or state government agencies to take notice of their larger societal and environmental goals. And instead of solely creating goals that exist in a silo, you’ll have an opportunity to support existing networks where collectively you’ll increase impact through greater focus and collaboration.
3) Define your volunteerism and grant giving parameters
Volunteering and monetary donations to charity are common acts of kindness by many. However, as a company, you’ll want to create policy that’s accessible to employees that clearly communicate the parameters in which they can volunteer while representing the company.
4) Revisit your company’s purpose:
Consumers are now using their purchase power as a statement of their values. They’re purchasing goods and services from companies they believe are socially and environmentally responsible and align with their values as individuals. It’s becoming increasingly more expected of companies to generate a positive social and environmental change in the communities where they conduct business.
So, beyond generating revenue for your stakeholders, this is a time to revisit your purpose as a company. Think of your company purpose as the reason you exist.
5) Form partnerships with community organizations
6) Empower your Internal Team members and stakeholders
7) Track, measure and report your impact:
Be sure to measure your progress as you advance on these achievements. As you’re creating the strategy have a data-collection plan that also captures the volunteering, grant giving, and resources given. These metrics should be well documented so you’re able to more effectively share the stories of the work you’re doing in the community.
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