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Ensuring your CSR programs have impact.

Although most companies regard corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a way to enhance their public image, we must be reminded of what CSR is supposed to be: to take responsibility for the company's effects on the well-being of the environment and society. CSR also applies to efforts that not only go beyond what is required by regulators, but also contribute to social change.

But CSR is not exclusive to big corporations or organizations. CSR is something that can be initiated even by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. It is not about what type or size of business you have but it is about your company deciding what CSR program you can undertake.

To help you decide on this, here are three tips on what should be your considerations in starting your CSR program, according to JR Demecais, a social entrepreneur, a researcher and project manager of various CSR programs:

Business-aligned social purpose

CSR programs should reflect the values, aspirations and goals of your business toward contributing to a social purpose. In doing this, the CSR program strengthens the value proposition of the company, at the same time leverages what the company is good at doing or its area of expertise.

Measurable indicators

If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it. A good CSR program is implemented to ensure that the company's effort has a positive effect toward a targeted group or society as a whole. For example, if you have a CSR program for public school students, what change do you want to see? Was absenteeism decreased? Were the students' grades increased? Currently, there are a lot of available tools that help companies measure the impact of their CSR programs.

Contribute toward sustainable development goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by 193 countries including the Philippines in September 2015. The ultimate goal is to mobilize efforts of both the government and the private sector to achieve SDG targets by 2030. Your CSR programs could be a perfect way to align with these targets.

'How to start a CSR program?' is an operational question after knowing your considerations of what a good CSR program for your company would be. Here are four initial steps you could do to launch your company's CSR program:

1. Know your company's strengths. Assess the competencies of your company by looking at your business operations. After identifying, think innovatively on how you can offer this best to answer a need of a group or a community.

2. Map out your stakeholders. Stakeholders are all people involved in your CSR program. This includes your target group or community. Invest time to understand community needs so that you can match your CSR program seamlessly.

3. Build support. Since CSR programs entail costs, it is always best to start with extensive planning. Build your case on why your company should invest in the program and how the company will be able to benefit. Social return on investment is a tool used to help business owners understand CSR programs using the business's point-of-view.

4. Find a collaborator. Lobbying your CSR program to management will be the most challenging part in starting. Spot a collaborator within the organization to help you lobby for the launching of your CSR program. The collaborator should be someone that can effect inspiration among decision makers.

Demecais will conduct a course titled 'Effective CSR Programs: Planning and Executing Relevant Programs with Social Impact' on Aug. 30 in Cebu City, and on Nov. 14 at the Inquirer Academy, Makati.

The course will help organizations start or revisit their CSR initiatives to add value to their brand and to society.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jul 15, 2019
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