Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or donations can often be seen as window-dressing, but if done right, corporate (and personal) responsibility encompasses giving and the highest form of fulfillment. Earning my living helping corporations (and individuals) utilize the media and public forums to build their brand, we are often asked if certain charitable initiatives will help companies make more, or be portrayed better and my professional answer is always – Only if you are dedicated to it and really believe in it.
Other than the divine blessing and requirements of donations (tithing), we also merit many business realizations from giving to charity. In his book “Giving”, former President Bill Clinton tells of an African tribe he encountered as a result of his “Clinton Foundation”, that has a unique way of greeting each other. When someone says ‘hello’ the other greets him with “I see you.” It’s a powerful message in a world where differences are usually quite visible. Clinton testifies on his amazement with the amount of individuals and business alike that share so many causes and are actively contributing to organizations, NGOs, and charities.
To “win” at corporate responsibility and giving requires dedication. Celebrities, who walk around hospitals one-time, attend fundraising events for NGOs or make a public donation without sincerity can often be seen, with good reason as insincere. I don’t rule out the possibility that some play the game in a very strategic and bleak approach to the issue of giving. But it shouldn’t undermine those individuals, businesses and “even” corporations who are devoted to a larger goal than their own sales and profits.
I was raised in a home where giving wasn’t an option – it was a requirement, whether your money, time, attention or thoughts. For me they are part of a holy, higher value and I believe all people should give, regardless of how much or how little they have. The almighty rests his blessing on those who give, and certain “karma” if you will, shines your life and interactions with people.
Charitable donations raise a company (and individuals’) self image and self awareness. Helping and giving makes you feel good, and more focused on your purpose in the sector or your role. It allows organizations (and people) to be balanced and focused, and lessons jealously, allowing you to feel accomplished and focused on earning even more.
Yet another business benefit is the amazing people you meet at non-profit organizations you care about – you meet people who care about issues similar to you, and as you develop a bond over time, naturally you can make life-long friends, and also naturally beneficial business relationships. (And some of the people you meet through charities can be completely inaccessible in the “real world” but can be reached via the charity you devote your time and effort to).
These people can even evolve into your biggest clients as they did for me. Am certainly not saying to join, or get involved in CSR for business relationships – Join if you believe in and want to help the cause… but of course always expand your network.
Here are some initiatives to consider:
Social Responsibility acts: Whether an individual or major corporation, engage in corporate good. Your employees might very much identify with a list of causes that they and you can embark around the neighborhood you work from, or individual causes. Match donations, or offer time to causes. Can even allow corporations to be rallied as a team around a cause, which becomes useful for corporate morale.
NGOs and Dinners: Beside the obvious goals met when you attend a dinner and the objectives it fulfills with your contribution, you get to meet very interesting people who share the notion that our common humanity is vital. That is your evening and opportunity to mingle, bond, and make new connections. The cause can set the basis for self-reflection and encouragement to support the benefit you attended.
Programs: This is where unique resources come to place. Participate in programs where you can make a difference. PR firms of course can assist in media work, restaurants with food, and the like. Promote the cause like you’d help a loved one.
There are many ways and means to give. The initial act is the most important and ultimate fulfillment that you will gain, and remember that it is never too late to start – Just do it. Give the money away, the blessings of every kind will be returned to you in many multiples. That’s a personal and Public Relations guarantee.
Ronn Torossian is president and CEO of 5WPR, one of the 20 largest independent PR agencies in the U.S. Named to the “40 under 40” list of PR Week & Advertising Age, Ronn Torossian was a semi-finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and may be reached at Rtorossian@5wpr.com and followed on twitter @rtorossian5wpr