How to Create & Launch CSR Programs: Aligning Brand Values with Community Impact





Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are an important part of your company’s relationship with your community and your employees. By having an effective CSR program, you can build public goodwill, showcase your brand values, and have a positive impact in your community. Creating and launching a CSR program at your company can be challenging, especially if your previous corporate giving efforts were more modest or not as focused. Thankfully, with a little planning and preparation, you can launch a CSR program with the right CSR management tools for success.


How to Launch a CSR Program

Launching a CSR program can be a challenging process. You need to determine how your company will engage nonprofit partners and your employees in giving back. Then, you need to spread awareness within your company and externally about the ways you are contributing to your community. By planning and making a strategy before you formally launch your CSR program, you can set your company up for success in your corporate giving. 


Focus Your CSR Impact

Make sure that your CSR program has a clear focus that aligns with the way your company wants to engage in the community. By developing the areas you want to fund, you can make sure your CSR program has the most impact and streamline the process of contributing towards causes you care about. Whether it’s education, housing, youth, or something else, focusing your CSR program will make a real difference in your company’s success.


Gather Employee Input for Your CSR Program

Ask your employees how they would like to engage in your CSR program. Would they like time to volunteer, a company match, or something else? Give employees time to think about it and let them submit feedback anonymously. A survey option can be a great way to solicit employee feedback quickly—just be aware that you’ll likely get responses from your most engaged employees, so take the level of interest with a grain of salt. The employees who are less engaged now are also less likely to fill out a survey, but CSR programs have been shown to increase employee engagement. 


Identify the employees who will help champion your program and bring them in on the planning. They can serve as fundraising captains and provide support to get more of their colleagues on board. By giving them a role, you’ll also increase their buy-in and build some early momentum for your program. 


Announcing the Launch of Your CSR Program

Find a positive way to launch your CSR program, whether that’s at a company event, with a special significant gift, or by kicking off an internal fundraising or volunteering competition. This can help get your employees excited as well as earn some interest from media, boosting your reputation externally. Make sure you designate a key point person for the program to speak to both internal and external stakeholders. It can also help to put your program on a timeline to help build a sense of urgency—create a deadline for the company match or grant applications to drive interest early on. 


7 Types of CSR Programs


Here are the most common ways that companies engage in CSR.

 

1. GENERAL DONATIONS

Making monetary donations to causes your company and your employees care about is the most basic and most common form of corporate social responsibility. Many companies will pledge to donate a percentage of their earnings each year to charitable causes. Some choose to partner with a specific nonprofit, while others set up a donation application form and allow nonprofits to request donations. 


Businesses receive requests for donations every day, and managing all those requests can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Finding an effective CSR management software like DonationXchange can streamline all of your donation processes so that you can easily manage the donation request fulfillment life cycles from start to finish. From reviewing requests to sending donations directly to nonprofits, a CSR management tool can help keep your CSR program on track. 


2. IN-KIND GIVING 

Instead of giving money to organizations to buy needed goods and services, the goods and services themselves can be donated as gifts in kind. In-kind donations are a great way to support nonprofit partners. You can give items that your company produces, provide services pro bono, or run in-kind donation drives with your employees to gather needed items like food or clothing. 


CSR management software like DonationXchange can track all of your giving initiatives in one central repository. Once you have created and embedded your custom item donation request form onto your website, organizations can submit charitable donation requests online. Handling donation requests can be easy and stress-free—when you have the right tools.

 

3. GRANTS, SCHOLARSHIPS & SPONSORSHIPS

Setting up a program to award deserving organizations or individuals with grants, scholarships or sponsorships is another common CSR practice. Offering grants, sponsorships, or scholarships can easily become a logistical nightmare as you field constant requests from different nonprofits and individuals. Setting up clear funding priorities, a common-sense process, and using an effective grant management software goes a long way to help you manage grant and sponsorship requests.  


Tools like DonationXchange allow you to brand your application form to fit seamlessly into your website. You can also send a link to pre-determined benefactors. Applicants can easily edit, save, and submit their completed forms, and can independently check the status of their applications online. The user-friendly platform is designed to provide both applicants and reviewers with a hassle-free experience. 


4. DISASTER RELIEF 

When disaster strikes, many companies choose to take action by supporting the victims with internal fundraising efforts. Responding to a crisis as a company helps streamline the giving process and allows employees to donate anonymously—getting money where it needs to go quickly and efficiently. 


In the unfortunate circumstance of an unexpected tragedy, having a system in place can allow you to pivot quickly and execute disaster relief funding right away. Tools like DonationXchange can equip you with the ability to implement a Disaster Relief program in less than 24 hours. Templates are provided to easily create donation sites that can be embedded on your website or shared via hyperlink, allowing employees to contribute via credit card. DonationXchange also allows you to choose what to fund with your disaster relief money so you can be confident your contributions are going to the most productive and responsive relief initiatives. 


5. EMPLOYEE VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS

Creating opportunities and incentives for employees to volunteer is a proven way to increase morale and engagement. Many companies are now adding "volunteer days" to their PTO packages to encourage employees to give back without sacrificing time off. Other companies create a unique incentive by offering extra PTO days after a certain number of volunteer hours are logged. According to a 2013 study, people who volunteer report that they feel better emotionally, mentally, and physically. The same study revealed volunteering employees are less stressed, more engaged, and are developing important work and people skills. By allowing your employees to become volunteering champions and deeply involved members of their community, you are showcasing the value you place in them—an important piece of employee engagement in a tight labor market.


Having the right employee volunteering management software can help your employee volunteering program function smoothly without adding a lot of extra work. DonationXchange can help you manage both your corporate giving and employee volunteering. The tool gives your employees the opportunity to easily create and submit new events (pending approval), register for company-sponsored events, and participate in your key community programs by completing a simple online form found in their personal employee giving portal account. 


6. MATCHING GIFTS 

A matching gifts program provides an employer match for any employee's monetary donations to eligible nonprofit organizations. Your company can set a specific limit on how much will be matched in a year, which can help your organization budget effectively for your CSR program. Some programs will also require a minimum dollar amount from an employee in order for their donation to be matched. For example, Company A may require a donation of at least $250 and no more than $1,000 to receive a matching gift. Alternatively, Company B may have no minimum requirement and also have different levels of matching gifts thresholds based on employee level. Some companies will even merge their matching gifts programs with their employee volunteer programs to create a more cohesive program that supports their employees as they seek to make a positive impact in the community. 


DonationXchange allows employees to submit charitable gifts to causes of their choice directly through the system via credit card, e-check, or payroll deduction. Records of gifts external to the system can also be easily uploaded in digital receipt form or input manually after the donation recipient validates the gift.  


7. DOLLARS FOR DOERS

Dollars for Doers—also known as volunteer grant programs—allow employees to earn monetary grants from their company for volunteer hours. When an employee volunteers for a certain number of hours per year, they can receive a grant for a nonprofit organization that the employee or company chooses. Some companies may structure the program on an hourly basis instead, allowing employees to earn a specific dollar amount for every hour they volunteer. It’s simple for your organization to set a limit on the amount of money earned by volunteering, if necessary, to keep expenses within your budget.


The most successful Dollars for Doers programs allow your company to effectively implement the program online, making it easy for your employees to participate. DonationXchange allows you to reward and motivate your employees by implementing Dollars for Doers programs in a simple online portal. As employees complete volunteer hours, they can use the online portal to log their hours. Administrators can then communicate directly with the charities to verify service hours as employees progress toward their funding goal.

 

Launching a Successful CSR Program

Many companies choose to leverage multiple CSR programs in order to encourage more philanthropy and increase engagement in the workplace. Whatever combination of programs is right for your company, DonationXchange has the technology to help you manage them all with ease.

 


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