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2011-11-12 00:00:00GeneralEnglishSocial Responsibility for the Non-Corporate Set: Act Local, Donate a Portion of Your Proceeds, Rally Your Employees, Contribute in Your Own... Responsibility for the Non-Corporate Set

Social Responsibility for the Non-Corporate Set

3 min read

The CSR provision in the soon-to-be-official Companies Bill of 2011 has been hotly debated in recent months. So much so that after initially proposing a mandate that all businesses spend 2% of net profits on CSR, the government thought better of it and backtracked. The current version now just requires that companies track and report their CSR expenditure, whatever the amount might be. Clearly, mandates are not the way to go in this area since there are differing viewpoints on what constitutes CSR as well as varying capacities for it.

While large corporations can commit full-time resources to the effort – Mahindra throws its weight firmly behind girls’ education and Infosys has a unit dedicated to philanthropy in the Infosys Foundation – a small business with slim margins may not be in a position to back good intentions with so much organized action.

However, doing good in whatever way possible is great for establishing and building trust and improving business in general. Social responsibility – even if it’s not of the ‘corporate’ variety – goes a long way in enhancing a brand’s public perception and standing. So, here are a few ideas for some simple and sustainable practices that a small business can follow in this area:

Act Local

The adage ‘charity begins at home’ rings true, if with a slightly different tone, when it comes to social responsibility in the SME space. If you run a small or medium business, you can look for a government school, library, animal shelter or other local organization to support on a consistent basis. The support can be in the form of a financial donation; a collection drive for books, clothing or other supplies; or regular volunteer visits by employees in your company.

Join Hands with an NGO

Identify an NGO that is doing good work in the community and draft a mutually agreeable arrangement based on your supporting the cause in return for positive publicity mileage. Make sure you have the bandwidth to handle whatever it is you commit to, whether it involves help with organizing fundraisers or online campaigns to spread the word on the work they do.

Rally Your Employees

Nothing unites people better than a good cause and when the people involved are your employees, you will succeed in raising engagement levels within your organization while simultaneously giving back to society – two important objectives that are conveniently achieved in one master stroke.

So sign your employees up for that Cancer Run, organize a clean-up day at a community park or have them conduct a public awareness campaign with an environmental message . Choose a cause that is likely to resonate with your employees and find ways to generate some internal buzz and excitement around it.

Donate a Portion of Your Proceeds

Show you really care about a social or environmental cause by pledging a small percentage of your profits to it. Highlight your commitment and celebrate its impact through your online and offline communication.

Contribute in Your Own Special Way

Depending on the business you are in, you can probably find a special way to give back that is uniquely yours. For example, if you run a restaurant, you can conduct a cooking demonstration to raise funds for your charity of choice. If you sell sporting goods, you could ask customers to donate used sporting equipment that can be refurbished and donated to an orphanage or school.

By focusing on modes of giving that are in line with your organizational goals, you can ensure that social responsibility (with or without the word ‘corporate’ preceding it) is an integral part of doing business and not a distraction from it. Sources:

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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