2021 CSR Industry Recap

The Most Important Things that Happened in CSR in a Year to Remember

Last year posed some unique challenges for businesses and nonprofits. For CSR programs, it was a critical year that exposed new areas of focus, important elements that any CSR program needs to focus on for the coming year, and mistakes to avoid with your CSR program. This 2021 CSR industry recap focuses on what CSR programs can learn from 2021.

COVID Challenges Nonprofits and Businesses

The impact of COVID-19 didn’t go away in 2021. For many nonprofits, funding and programming changes remained a challenge last year. For many businesses, COVID-19 as well as supply chain issues made profit margins and other results especially hard in 2021. For your company’s CSR program, the impact of COVID-19 in 2021 provides some helpful lessons for next year. Helping your nonprofits have stable funding can be a big way you can provide greater support for them during challenging times. You can also provide flexibility in your grants and sponsorships to allow nonprofit partners to adjust as needed. 

While the pandemic will hopefully be behind us at some point in 2022, learning from the challenges of COVID is an important lesson from 2021 for the CSR industry. Building in flexibility for both your CSR program and your nonprofits is vital to making a powerful impact in 2022.

Companies Invest in Social Justice

The challenges of 2020 cemented many of the changes that happened that year, and not just those related to COVID-19. The names of those whose deaths inspired protests throughout the country won’t be quickly forgotten, and neither will the changes those protests inspired. Many companies found themselves needing to respond to calls for social justice and racial equality in ways that they hadn’t before.

This trend continued in 2021. Companies need to invest in social justice both by ensuring their internal culture is an inclusive and welcoming place while also responding to the events that took place in their cities and backyards. Regardless of your industry, investing in social justice has become an important part of corporate social responsibility.

When your company’s CSR work includes a commitment to social justice, be careful to approach the topic with sensitivity. Involve community voices and perspectives in your decision-making process and be careful not to come across as dismissive or patronizing. Having the wrong tone or an overly top-down approach to helping can easily backfire and be perceived as belittling the people you are trying to help.

CSR Needs to Respond to Disasters

Modern CSR programs need to be responsive to our 24-hour news cycle as well as the ongoing challenges that natural disasters pose. Rather than only giving back in planned, structured ways, let your company’s CSR program respond to disasters when they happen. In 2021, the ongoing impact of COVID-19, wildfires and extreme heat in the West, winter storms in the South (included one that devastated Texas by knocking out the power), and a series of deadly tornadoes in Kentucky and neary states all decimated the populations in those areas and cost people their lives.

Responding to disasters like these, especially if they happen in areas your company has a connection to, is a way to show your community and your employees that your company is a respected, responsible neighbor. You can have a powerful impact while simultaneously boosting employee morale and engagement by simply lending a hand in some way during times of tragedy. Keep your assistance tangible, direct, and meaningful—whether that’s contributing cash or providing in-kind items that are desperately needed. 

Make sure that your disaster response giving is setup ahead of time and easy for employees to use. Tools like DonationXchange allow you to create an Employee Portal to manage all of your employee giving, whether it’s for a company match or for disaster response giving. By having one place that employees go to for giving and volunteering, you can streamline your processes and help your employees understand how your company is engaging with the community. With the right software tools, your CSR program can make a bigger impact in 2022. 

Engagement remains important

Several reports on giving in 2021 show that engaged donors and employees continue to be the most valuable to nonprofits and companies. The donors and employees who engage in one way or give once are more likely to engage again and give again. When considering what this means for CSR programs in 2022, focusing on getting people to start engaging is important.

There are a variety of things you can try. Disaster relief giving is one way many people get started giving—setting up an easy way to turn around disaster giving for employees with a tool like DonationXchange can be effective and simple. Another great option is holiday giving campaigns with a company match. For many companies, that’s an easy win for your CSR program in 2022. 

As far as engaging with your nonprofit partners, it can go a long way to add another layer of giving and collaboration with them moving forward. Your CSR program can help promote their events, provide in-kind donations, or bring your employees to volunteer. All of these are great ways to build deeper relationships with your nonprofit partners and have a greater impact in the community with your CSR program in 2022.

What You Need to Know for CSR in 2022

The CSR lessons from 2021 point to a need to continue investing in key areas of CSR programs. Building a flexible, responsive CSR program that can adjust to everything from disasters to nonprofits facing challenges. Make sure to find the right support systems and software solutions like DonationXchange to have an even bigger impact in 2022.


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