5 Ways Small & Midsize Companies Can Win In The World of CSR

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Large multinational companies have historically led the charge in the corporate social responsibility space. They’ve had the largest budgets available to give back to communities and to support their employees in their giving and volunteering goals. However, as corporate social responsibility (CSR) moves from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) can deliver more impact per employee by launching a structured CSR program. 

SMBs have historically delivered social impact through one-off initiatives. Whether it’s a volunteer event organized by a passionate employee or a fundraiser for an employee suffering from cancer, these organizations have stepped in to support. However, as it becomes even more important for businesses to support the community, these one-off initiatives need to transition to a longer-term, structured plan. 

Here are 5 reasons why we think SMBs can win in CSR:

  1. Easier to Involve Leaders:
  • A strong corporate volunteering program includes business leaders. These business leaders promote and encourage participant sign-ups, increasing overall impact. Often, they lead by example through donations and personal commitments to volunteering. 
  • At large corporations, leaders often don’t have time to be involved, or the work gets dedicated to their admins. In addition, most employees don’t have a personal relationship with these leaders. 
  • At SMBs, leaders are known personally by their employees and lead by example on a daily basis, whether in the office or virtually over Zoom. They have direct contact with employees every day and can see the importance of having volunteering be part of their company culture. They inherently understand the importance of taking time out of their schedule for social impact activities. 
  1. Easier to Align with Key Initiatives:
  • To have a successful corporate volunteer program and corporate social responsibility program means having the corporate initiatives and mission aligned with employee interests. If a company wants to promote the environment, but all employees want to support homelessness, that natural disconnect is going to be felt by all stakeholders. A program like this will still deliver a lot of good for both the company and nonprofit organizations. However, the most successful and impactful programs are ones where the company and employees are aligned. 
  • To do this effectively, companies need to not only listen to their employees, but also understand what they care about and why. They need to effectively communicate to employees why the company cares about certain initiatives. Doing this at a large company can be quite challenging, but at SMBs, leaders have the ability to better understand what employees care about and communicate corporate initiatives in a more personal manner.
  1. Easier to Track Data:
  • Tracking and leveraging data within a corporate social responsibility and corporate volunteering strategy is essential. It proves the ROI of the work and tracks overall impact for all stakeholders. Doing this at a 35,000 employee company is challenging, but at a smaller company, it is a lot easier to track data to ensure your employees are aligned with your program and delivering the maximum impact. 
  1. Net Promoters Drive More Good:
  • A long-term corporate volunteering and social impact program is most successful when employees drive the most excitement for it. It’s the company’s job to enable employees to deliver impact; but when a company has strong net promoters within their employee base, it will be far more successful. 
  • At small businesses, the power of a net promoter can be more valuable than at a large company. This net promoter can be a ‘big fish in a small pond’ and get the entire employee base to rally around the various causes the organization is supporting. 
  1. Customers Care More:
  • One of the clear benefits of a CSR and corporate volunteering program is that it improves a brand’s positioning within the market. There are several ways to involve customers, but SMBs tend to have a closer relationship with their customers, so there’s a more personal way to connect them to the impact the company is delivering. 

Larger companies have numerous advantages, but this doesn’t mean smaller companies can’t deliver a great deal  of impact while engaging their workforce. If your small business wants to support building a program tailored to your goals, don’t hesitate to reach out.

The Writers

Andy VandenBerg
Andy VandenBerg is the co-founder and COO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Andy speaks actively about the importance of aligning strategy with social responsibility and how companies can pursue both purpose and profit. Andy’s past experience includes private equity and family office investing. If he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him in the Pacific Ocean or Lake Michigan.
Ben Sampson
Ben Sampson is the co-founder and CEO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Ben speaks actively about corporate social responsibility, volunteerism, sustainability, and how companies united with activism drive powerful change. Ben’s past experience includes leading product teams, building startups, and studying sustainable business strategy at Harvard. In his free time, he’s an avid outdoor enthusiast focused on skiing, surfing, and mountain biking.

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