CSR & Your Brand: Why it Matters to Your Organization

Insight

by Jenna Lally, 7.10.2019

Are you ahead of or behind the curve? Now, more than ever, corporate social responsibility is taking the driver’s seat in businesses. But, why does it matter? Apart from doing good, CSR is crucial to keep your organization afloat.

“If you wait for a crisis to implement a CSR program, you’re already behind”

– Machelle Williams

Senior Director of Diversity & CSR at Volkswagen Group of America

According to Forbes, millennials were estimated to spend over $200 billion in the U.S. alone in 2017. Now in 2018, they have the most spending power of any generation. Millennials make up one-quarter of the U.S. population at a total of 77 million people—that’s more than Baby Boomers and three times the size of Generation X.  A Fast Company 2017 study highlights how this demographic cares more about an organization’s reputation than previous generations. This drastically changes the game. If millennials feel an organization doesn’t align with their values, they’ll spend their dollars elsewhere. CSR is a pillar every organization must have to ensure their brand is chosen in the vast pool of choices audiences have today.

To hear from CSR experts first-hand, we opened up our studio doors to host big-name and boutique brands alike and learn how CSR can and should become a component of each and every organization. Getting started with CSR doesn’t need to be a daunting task, it can be as simple as creating one drop of action that ripples into a larger, positive impact. And that’s where our workshop series began.

Dipping Our Toes into CSR at the One Drop Workshop

CSR is an enormous task to take on, but it doesn’t have to be. Our speakers, with CSR expertise gained from their time at Volkswagen, Marriott International, and Ballast Research, took the stage for our first One Drop Workshop, which we co-hosted with OTM Partners. Each speaker shared how organizations often mistakenly think they need grandiose plans requiring massive budgets or chunks of time to implement a CSR plan.

“I see businesses try and fit a gallon of ideas into a pint of reality when really, it’s much simpler,”

says Mari Snyder, Former Vice President of Social Responsibility & Community Engagement at Marriott International.

All you need is one idea. It only takes one drop of purpose to create change within an organization’s CSR initiative.

Our speakers shared their droplets of meaning that rippled into profound CSR growth. To Snyder, influencing the C-Suite and those in power with the final say, is one of the most important things when building CSR initiatives. If they don’t approve, how will your great idea be funded and executed?

Machelle Williams, Senior Director of Diversity & CSR at Volkswagen Group of America, told the audience to never underestimate the value of community partnerships and more importantly, employee engagement. When brands offer their employees time to volunteer with an organization of their choice, it’s pure gold for a brand’s reputation. We instinctively self-promote our good deeds on social media and that positively promotes our employer, without having the company spending a dime.  This means much more than just writing a check. And, in turn, the employees and organization can celebrate in their shared values.

“Always ask yourself: why should they care?”

Clark says when speaking about telling an audience about your CSR implementations.

If you’re doing great things for communities, but there’s not context or a compelling story around it—will it build your brand? The answer is no. Organizations who invest more money in the storytelling and who tie in their mission with a CSR goal have more impact on building their brand than those who don’t.

When you translate the numbers into a comprehensive story, it shows how CSR is in turn, part of your brand story. Data makes you reputable. But, you can’t simply present numbers. They need to have purpose behind them and show the impact that’s been created.

Applying CSR Findings To Your Brand

CSR initiatives shouldn’t be a feat organizations feel they must conquer. A CSR strategy should be crafted to each unique brand, and reflect its mission and values. To get started, all you have to do is think of one idea and then branch it off into attainable, measurable goals. Chances are, your brand has existing partnerships that you can leverage. Start there, then you can define your brand’s goals and community goals. Where is there overlap? Finding that alignment is key and brings clarity to how to jumpstart your CSR programs.

Finding the balance of data, passion, and community with a new CSR initiative is an exciting new venture for organizations. CSR will build your reputation and instill loyal stakeholders. When audiences like the brand they’re taking part in, they aren’t quiet about it. They share on social media. They tell their friends. They actively choose your brand over another. Not only will you be helping your community, you’re also increasing your audience just by doing good. It’s a win-win.

There’s great organizations out there offering similar missions and services of equal caliber. CSR can set one above the other. CSR is the edge every organization needs.

Jenna Lally

Jenna Lally

As Marketing Strategist, Jenna crafts customized digital marketing strategies and cross-channel content to connect with diverse audiences.

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