What is Corporate Social Responsibility and How it Affects You

CSR, corporate social responsibility, beer

What is Corporate Social Responsibility and How Does it Affect You?

At Down to Donate, we’ve made it our beeswax to be more environmentally and socially responsible.

Call us naive, but we like to assume those are some of your top priorities too.

And because it’s one of your priorities, the likelihood that you want either work for or support companies who also prioritize being socially and environmentally responsible is probably pretty high.

So how can we know which companies actually care? Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a buzzword businesses love tossing around more and more these days, but what does it really mean? 

Is it choosing a random nonprofit to donate to once a year without the company consulting its employees for ideas or input? Or is it actually partnering with a nonprofit to create a mutually beneficial relationship?

And what’s the difference between CSR and Corporate Philanthropy? Aren’t there a bunch of types of corporate philanthropy? And don’t those types have their own rules? 

We feel you. On top of trying to be a change-maker yourself, it gets real hard to support and work for companies that share your beliefs.

But don’t worry, we got you. We’re gonna do what we always do and simply break down what Corporate Social Responsibility is and how it affects you.

Corporate Social Responsibility Vs. Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate Social Responsibility is the overall attitude the corporation has regarding social, economic, and environmental issues. 

A strong example of CSR would be New Belgium. Yep, this brewery is owned entirely by its employees through stock ownership allowing them to have a big, equal vision. Their head of CSR, Katie Wallace has been quoted saying, “We consider social and environmental well-being to be intricately intertwined.” 

Corporate Philanthropy is the action they take regarding charitable donations of time or money. 

A strong example of corporate philanthropy is again, New Belgium. Monetarily speaking, they’ve donated more than $26 million dollars to environmental issues.

They are truly walking the walk by producing a substantial percentage of electricity at their Fort Collins brewery through solar panels and wastewater, as well as making generous contributions to bicycle and eco-focused organizations, which is a direct product of the entire company having a say in how to give back to society. 

They’ve created a culture inside the company that can translate into communities they value outside the company.

You may have noticed in the past few years companies talking more and more about “values”, many of them taking stances and claiming to want to make a positive impact outside of just business. But why? How does this benefit the company?

It all starts with investors. According to Forbes, more than 80% of mainstream investors now consider ESG – environmental, social and governance – information when making investment decisions.

With investors beginning to make decisions with social responsibility in mind, companies are going to need to meet that need by incorporating CSR into their values. 

By setting higher standards for their values surrounding ESG factors, companies will see higher investments from investors, but also from socially responsible consumers. 

With the rise in socially conscious consumer awareness, companies are seeing consumer demand for them to reciprocate this awareness and are expecting action. Businesses who are willing to put in the time to give back in some type of corporate philanthropy will be a step ahead of those who choose not to, giving these socially responsible corporations a leg up! 

So for those of you who may be looking for a job, this could mean choosing a socially responsible corporation could be beneficial to you in several ways (but we’ll get more into that later).

BONUS: Downloadble CSR Cheat Sheets

Types of Corporate Philanthropy

Lucky for you, there are a lot of ways a company may choose to give back, with the most popular being:

Matching Gifts

With 9/10 corporations offering to match gifts, they are by far the most popular when it comes to corporate philanthropy and usually they’re pretty straight forward. 

When an employee donates to a non-profit, the company agrees to match this donation typically 1:1. So basically, they agree to double your initial donation. Heck. Yes.

The only work that comes with this from the employee’s end is being sure to submit a matching gift request to your employer.

The issue with Matching Gifts is that many times employees don’t realize their companies do Matching Gifts, or they don’t realize they’re match-eligible with their company.

Volunteer Grants

Volunteer Grants are the second most popular in the corporate philanthropy world and are steadily rising, with over 45% of Fortune 500 companies offering volunteer grants to employees. 

Volunteer Grants are similar to matching gifts, but rather than donating money, you’re donating your time and the company donates the money. 

So what this means is, you volunteer with a non-profit for X amount of hours and your employer agrees to match your time with X amount of dollars.

Don’t everybody run to their bosses at once.

One of the best things about Volunteer Grants is companies offer them to nearly all 501(c)(3) nonprofits. So, if you aren’t sure what those are, read this.

If you’re looking for a job, deciding between a company that offers volunteer grants or one offering matching gifts is all personal preference and in knowing what works best for you.

Employee Grant Stipends

Employee Grant Stipends, while less common than Matching Gifts or Volunteer Grants, still make an impact. This type of corporate philanthropy is when a company awards a grant to each employee so that they can donate to a nonprofit of their choice.

Community Grants

Many large corporations have Community Grant programs set in place to help give back to their local communities. These types of grants usually bode well for larger corporations with a physical presence in the community but are really beneficial to every party involved.

Nonprofits can reach out to corporations with these programs and pitch to them why their organization could use a grant to make a positive impact. 

Typically, corporations give these grants to other organizations also holding a physical presence in the community.

This is usually in part to really support the local community, but also to bolster the image of the corporation within the community.

Volunteer Support Initiatives

Volunteer Support Initiatives are when companies pair their employees with nonprofits to offer their unique set of skills. 

For example, an I.T. company might partner its employees with a local nonprofit that teaches underprivileged kids how to code. Nonprofits aimed at helping a particular subset of the population can really benefit from these types of partnerships because, well, they’re awesome.

Corporate Sponsorships

Corporate sponsorships are when companies pay to be associated with an event or nonprofit. 

They offer financial support to said event/nonprofit’s mission, in return, the nonprofit publicly recognizes this. This is a pretty well-known type of corporate philanthropy, but also a unique advertising opportunity for the company.

Can’t Work for ’em? Support ’em.

Alright! We hope we laid that out as simply as possible. We know it can be overwhelming, but we hope you can use this as a reference when making future decisions regarding Corporate Social Responsibility.

Want to keep up with companies making social and environmentally conscious decisions?  Read this blog or check out our podcast, Good Work FM, to hear our founder Monica interview some trailblazing individuals who are doing GOOD things, intertwining business and social responsibility.

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