While some companies incorporate giving programs as a sideline offer for PR purposes or as a bonus after business goals have been met for the quarter, there’s no reason why a well-planned and well-executed corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan shouldn’t be part of your business plan right from the start.
This is known as strategic philanthropy and it’s a proven method for helping achieve core business goals.
What is Strategic Philanthropy?
Strategic philanthropy involves integrating a CSR program into the company’s business plan just as any other initiative would be: through strategic planning, meticulous monitoring, and having a clear picture of the benefits to be derived by the company in the long run.
While many other aspects of a company’s giving program can and should be decided based on company culture, community needs, and other more subjective variables, this is especially important for an effective strategic philanthropy plan. A giving program is only going to be sustainable and successful if it can be feasibly maintained over the long term.
Planning the Work
To accomplish this, the basics of a CSR program should be mapped out as part of your business plan just like other aspects of your marketing and funding plans.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What portion of the budget can be safely allocated to a corporate giving program?
- What can we accomplish within that framework?
- How can we measure the program’s effectiveness?
- How does the CSR program align with other business goals?
- What is the projected return on investment?
Understandably, the answers to these questions will differ when considering a strategic philanthropy program as opposed to something more tangible like sales or marketing, but by approaching the subject in this manner, a concrete plan can be developed that will not only provide a framework for successful implementation, but will also offer a solid foundation for marketing your corporate philanthropy program internally to gain support from the C-suite.
Working the Plan
Once a strategic plan is made and a structure that aligns with business goals has been established, a smart CSR manager needs to run the program just like any other business unit is run.
If cost projections prove inaccurate, adjustments need to be made. If personnel are failing to fulfill their commitments within the plan, the manager needs to handle that issue.
Don’t let this seemingly cold approach to CSR management turn you off.
While every company can do worlds of good by implementing a quality corporate social responsibility program, they’re going to do far more good if they can sustain it effectively for years rather than months.
So, with that idea in mind, it only makes sense that sustainability requires that a business unit operate within budget, with appropriate support from human resources and upper management, and with a strong, strategic plan in place.
So where does your strategic philanthropy plan fit in to your overall business plan? Are improvements needed? There’s no better time than the present to strategically fit corporate giving into your overall business plan and start making an even greater impact on your community through strategic philanthropy.