It can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming to set up a new corporate social responsibility program. Fortunately, the process can be broken down into some simple steps based on general best practices and what has worked well for other companies. At Truist, we’ve found that breaking the process down into three stages – Conceive and Initiate, Commit and Implement, and Communicate and Inspire – is a great way to segment the daunting task of corporate social responsibility into something much more manageable.

Step 1: Conceive and Initiate
A corporate social responsibility program is never one-size-fits-all.  While crafting a program, it is important to keep the Three Pillars of Sustainability in the forefront: People, Planet and Profit. Create opportunities and multiple ways for employees and other stakeholders to engage with the program.  Incorporate opportunities across a wide spectrum of engagement that include volunteer days, traditional giving, recycling events, peer to peer fundraising, and disaster assistance. Consider taking your CSR program a step further and incorporate cause marketing into the program. Integrate your company’s products within the program, and take this as an opportunity to initiate commitments to supply chains and production processes.  Consider where and how it makes sense for your company to make a socially responsible and environmentally impactful investments and how to involve your company’s employees and leadership in that investment.

Step 2: Commit and Implement
Once the concept and details of the CSR program have been determined, it’s up to you to prove its value in terms of triple bottom line results for your company.  This requires assessing and measuring your program’s impact.  Develop a link between your social responsibility program and your company’s business results.  How does your cause driven program impact your company’s sales, customer satisfaction, employee and brand loyalty, and market access? Prove that your program positively impacts the company reputation and the overall profitability.  Track, measure, and communicate the impact that your program is making on the social, environmental, and economic factors.

Step 3: Communicate and Inspire
For any corporate program to succeed, the program needs endorsement and acceptance from the top management. A corporate social responsibility program is no different. Communicating the impact and successes of your program to the top levels of your organization is critical. Communicate frequently about the program’s progress and accomplishments, and also be sure to convey the program’s impact to the company’s triple bottom line.  Convince leadership to inspire employees and other stakeholders to make “cause” a priority, and encourage employees to participate and get each other involved. Track and share program outcomes and impact with employees, customers, community members, and program beneficiaries to build program recognition, loyalty, and momentum.  The success of the program is all about inspiration and participation.

Getting an effective CSR program off the ground isn’t easy. All too often, a program is received with enthusiasm at the beginning and then gets pushed off to the side for other priorities. This doesn’t have to be the case.

Download the 7 Steps for Building an Effective CSR Program eBook for best practices that will help you develop a program that is truly valued by your organization.

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