While writing our back-to-school charities blog post, we found it hard not to think of stores that fortunate students will be flocking to this time of year, which of course includes every college student’s mecca: IKEA. The Swedish budget furniture store offers so much more than just ubiquitous bookshelves and coffee tables – they also have a charitable wing of their organization that puts their CSR forward.

Much like Sephora’s CSR efforts, the IKEA Foundation‘s work is largely under the radar – especially when there’s a new catalog to browse through! – but they’ve done good work within the global community since 1982.

In line with the products they provide, the IKEA Foundation focuses on housing for vulnerable populations as well as supporting children from poor communities in receiving education and better opportunities. IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad is quoted as saying: “We all share basic needs: a secure home, good health, a regular income, a desire to keep our children safe, to see them get a good education and succeed in life. That’s why the IKEA Foundation has decided to focus our funding on these key necessities.”

Their mission also clearly spells out what their charitable foundation looks to achieve: “to create substantial and lasting change by funding holistic, long-term programmes in some of the world’s poorest communities that address children’s fundamental needs: home, health, education and a sustainable family income, while helping communities fight and cope with climate change.”

These days, they also focus on pertinent issues like disaster relief (working with the Red Cross), emergency medical care (working with Doctors Without Borders), and helping refugees – plus, as part of IKEA Foundation Global Citizens Programme, they’re able to send representatives to do volunteer work around the world and then write about it for their blog.

If you need CSR inspiration for your own company’s corporate social responsibility programs, IKEA is a solid place to start, and not only if you need a new Billy bookcase – they’re a great example of a company that uses its influence for good causes, but they also demonstrate how to align the causes they support with their business goals and core values. Plus, they’ve picked reputable aid organizations to partner with, along with other large and small partners.

The foundation’s annual reports and statistics are easily available to download through their website, and they offer newsletter signups for anyone who wants to receive periodic updates on their campaigns. These are all fantastic ways to keep an audience of supporters engaged, and contribute to transparency as well as spreading the word on good work being done!

When it comes to being a leader not only in affordable furniture but in CSR programs and efforts, IKEA gets our stamp of approval. Just don’t ask us to find our Allen key…

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