Many companies view Corporate Social Responsibility Programmes as a “Nice to have” arm of the business. But they shouldn’t – for five reasons.
For CSR professionals across the country, the last 18 months have been harsh. The pandemic has led to both jobs and donations being cut back. More and more professionals in the field struggle to justify why their projects should be maintained in a difficult situation.
Even in better times, many companies see CSR as a ‘nice to have’ business arm. Shareholders have struggled to see how adding social value or engaging in communities could also add value to the companies. Many CSR professionals find themselves having to prove their worth.
At whatimpact, we’ve had the privilege of working with some of the UK’s largest companies on their CSR – companies like EY, Novus, ENGIE and Higgins. We have seen first-hand how savvy corporates have harnessed the power of social value to gain a competitive advantage.
Now we wish to share five of those ways with you so that your company can run a successful CSR strategy that also helps drive business.
1. Win more business in the public sector
Since the introduction of the 2012 Public Services (Social Value) Act, government procurement has considered the role public spending can have, via private companies, on economic, social, and environmental wellbeing.
This only intensified at the beginning of 2021, when the Procurement Policy Note 06/20 made it mandatory for all companies bidding for public contracts to evidence theirsocial value throughout the contract’s lifecycle. This creates a competitive edge for companies that can clearly demonstrate their social impact.
What does Procurement Policy Note 06/20 mean for businesses? Download our guide that explains the changes and tells how you can position your company in the front line, when bidding for public contracts.
2. Attract more private clients
Relatively few companies work exclusively with government contracts. How can the companies working both on the private and the public domain leverage social value to their advantage?
Many studies have shown that clients appreciate social responsibility as well. There is a positive correlation between CSR activity, consumer perceptions and buyer intent.
Interestingly, any hint of hypocrisy – that CSR work is being undertaken to astroturf a damaged reputation – has a pronounced negative effect on brand perception. This suggests that to reap the growth benefits of CSR, it must be proactively practised in the good times – not simply turned to as a PR tool in times of reputational crisis.
3. Recruit and retain the best talent
Well-managed CSR programmes also play a role in employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction.
Much as consumers are likely to part with hard-earned cash more freely where they recognise that spending will be distributed efficiently to good causes, top talent is also drawn to environments where the work they perform has an impact beyond the company itself.
In the cutthroat world of corporate recruiting, where talented employees drive expansion, that is a crucial advantage. Once recruited, these employees tend to stay longer and require less in bonuses and perks. For many, it is not all about the money but rather the satisfaction that comes with making an impact.
4. Forge loyal customer relationships
Ask any competent sales professional who their best source of future sales is. The answer will always be the same – existing customers.
Customers who return to spend with you again and again. Customers who make the firm money while you sleep, while you’re on holiday, when you’re sick. The customers who keep coming back to buy your new products, at zero cost for new customer acquisition. This is the profit centre of a well-run company.
Dig deeper, and the marketer will tell you that customers buy on emotion and based on perception. Satisfied customers tend to be loyal customers, and loyal customers are regular customers.
5. Leverage referrals
The other thing about satisfied customers is that they refer. Referral remains the most cost-effective means of new customer acquisition for any business.
In hundreds of years of marketing endeavour, nothing has proven more likely to deliver a qualified customer to the doors of the business. We see many companies trying to mimic the referral effect. Consider Facebook’s ‘lookalike’ feature that attempts to match audience traits based on successful conversions.
Referrals tend to not only lead to new customers but long term customers, providing similarly long term gains in profitability.
How easy can adding social value be?
It’s easy to see how a well-implemented and thoughtfully delivered CSR strategy can significantly contribute to business success. But as should be clear from above, consumers are extremely discerning. Simply supporting the same handful of large charities that your competitors do does nothing to enhance your image amongst your prospect base. As studies have shown, this can often be regarded as a cynical move, however well-intentioned or sincere.
With the advent of AI in charity matching, companies can now implement effective CSR strategy and make compelling, unique experience propositions to their prospect base. The companies that support less well known, but equally essential charities, demonstrate to their audience that the CSR work they do is not some cynical play for consumer cash.
The whatimpact platform helps make that argument to your consumers and prospective customers for you. With over 60,000 charities in our database, and the world’s most advanced AI matching platform, we can ensure your firm makes a real impact.