CSR, social responsibility, social good.
People often use these terms interchangeably – which is understandable, as the lines are somewhat blurry.
So, let’s take a look at their definitions to see what the differences are between the three.
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)
At its core, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-regulating business model that helps a company to be socially accountable – to itself, its stakeholders, and the public.
By practising CSR, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental.
To engage in CSR means that, in the normal course of business, a company is operating in ways that enhance society and the environment, instead of contributing negatively to them.
On the other hand, social responsibility is the idea that businesses should balance profit-making activities with activities that benefit society.
The key ways a company embraces social responsibility includes philanthropy, promoting volunteering, and environmental changes.
Social good is something that benefits the largest number of people in the biggest possible way, such as clean air, clean water, healthcare, and literacy.
Also known as “common good”, social good can trace its history as far back as Ancient Greece (philosophers) and implies a positive impact on individuals or society in general. It also provides the basis for charity or philanthropic work.
Here at Social Good Connect, we use and believe in the term ‘social good’. It’s about creating as big a positive impact as possible, and when that is the focus you become a force for good.
Do I really need to create a social good strategy?
Yes! We work with many businesses and we’ve learned that not only do you need a strategy, you also need to document it.
Those with a documented ‘social good’ strategy:
- Are far more likely to consider themselves effective at delivering social good activities,
- feel significantly less challenged with every aspect of social good,
- generally consider themselves more effective in their delivery and measurement of social good, and
- were able to justify spending a higher percentage of their budget on social good activities.
What should my social good strategy include?
Think of a social good strategy as an outline of the causes close to the heart of your business. The causes that make sense to your purpose, values and business activities. Plus, a detailed plan for how you will deliver and measure activity to maximise the impact for your cause.
While there are no definitive templates for building a social good strategy – each strategy will be unique to the business that creates it.
Here are five components that they would commonly include:
1. Your business case for innovating with social good
By communicating your reasons for becoming a business that wishes to create impact in the world, the risks involved, and your vision of what success will look like, you are much more likely to gain executive support for your strategy.
2. Your business plan for social good
This covers the goals you have for your giving activity programme, the unique value you are looking to provide through your content, and details of your business model. It also should outline the obstacles and opportunities you may encounter as you execute your plan.
3. Implementation strategy
How will you actually provide social good? Will you align your company to a specific cause (a book company aligning with an adult literacy charity, for example) or will you get involved with employer supported volunteering and give your staff the freedom to support the causes they choose? There are many ways to provide positive impact through your business, think about your values and goals when planning the year’s social good activities.
4. Measuring your impact
Here, you should list ways in which you will measure the impact of your social good activity. Keep in mind that there are many, many social impact measurement models out there. You simply cannot measure everything. When deciding on a measurement strategy, keep your goals in mind and don’t get bogged down in trying to capture everything.
5. Your communication plan
List ways in which you will deliver the story of your social good across different audience channels, e.g. staff, customers, suppliers, partners. Be clear on the messages you want to communicate, how you are reviewing your activity for the following year, and how you see the landscape improving following your team’s activity. Include the platforms you will use to tell your story, what your criteria, processes, and objectives are for each one, and how you will connect them so that they create a cohesive brand conversation.
Do I need to share our social good strategy with others?
We’ve found that it’s beneficial to give everyone in your organisation access to your social good strategy – even those who may not be directly involved and even if you are in the early stages.
This is particularly critical in larger organisations, as it can help keep siloed teams on the same page, minimise duplicated efforts, and ensure that everyone is working toward the same impactful goals. Sharing your documented strategy is good practice for businesses that are just starting out with social good activities.
Of course, how you communicate your strategy depends on the structure and culture of your organisation.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to share your full documentation. In other cases, it may make more sense to create targeted summaries for certain stakeholders (e.g. board members, senior managers, direct team), based on how your social good strategy will impact their particular roles, processes, and objectives.
In short, consider this: how can you use the principles of social good to engage the team throughout your organisation and what do people care about the most? This should help you determine which components of your social good strategy are most appropriate to share with each team.
How often should I update my social good strategy?
Your strategy should stay consistent, even as your social good activity commences and evolves. However, other aspects of your social good strategy will likely benefit from being reviewed and updated periodically.
Consider revisiting your activities:
- Are they delivering on the outcomes and having an impact on the beneficiaries in your chosen cause?
- How are your staff engaging with your plan?
- What do you need to tweak?
- How are you measuring your impact- is there anything else needed here?
Review your own success:
- How have you made a difference?
- What has that meant for your business
- How are your customers, staff and partners engaging with your social good activity?
If you want to know more about creating a social good strategy, and how employer supported volunteering can be a valuable part of this – please get in touch!