The terms “corporate social responsibility” and “CSR” (or CSER to include environment) are constant buzzwords in the nonprofit and corporate worlds. To me, it’s not just “corporate”, it’s everyone. People get so riled up about what corporations should or should not be doing –- when’s the last time you considered what YOU should be doing? Social responsibility is for all of us; it’s about being a good citizen (individual or corporate) and sharing responsibility for our community –- local, national, global.
If you’re an individual, you can use energy-efficient light bulbs, separate your recycling and trash, and volunteer at your local school or food bank. Just for starters.
If you’re a sole proprietor or small business, you can donate your expertise (sometimes called pro bono or skilled volunteerism) to provide graphic/web design, legal, writing, accounting, carpentry or whatever skills you have to your community –- local church, nonprofit organization, school, etc. In my ad agency days, we regularly donated our services to create United Way’s leadership giving invitation package for their annual event. When I worked as a freelance writer, I did pro bono PR for numerous organizations, plus donated my time to develop taglines for C-SNIP (Community Spay Initiative Partnership); they chose “the best choice for your best friend”.
If you’re a larger business, you may be able to give significant financial grants, run a workplace campaign to raise resources from employees, mobilize your employees as volunteers, champion a certain cause/issue, and use your corporate assets (providing product/in-kind donations, offering your facilities as meeting space, raising awareness using your communication channels:website, social media, ad space or customer bill stuffers), etc.
Individuals and businesses have different causes they champion based on their experiences:
- A loved one was affected by a disease which motivates a person/company to give, advocate and volunteer to find a cure.
- Someone just has a certain passion area (animals, child trafficking, women’s rights, the arts).
- Your unique expertise or assets make you especially qualified to tackle a certain community issue (you’re an attorney and volunteer to help an immigrants rights organization).
- A particular issue affects you (individual or business) because of your geographic location or the business you are in. A doctor might really be interested in cures for diseases or preventive health. A business might want to revitalize the neighborhoods surrounding their workplace and stores to provide a stronger workforce and customer base.
The point is, everyone can do something. As Merry says to TreeBeard in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, “But you’re part of this world, aren't you?” (And eventually, TreeBeard and the Ents went to war to help save Middle Earth.)
We're all part of this world, so what are YOU going to do about it?