Demonstrating the value of your CSR programs

Most communicators today also oversee corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. They are either involved in the strategy and direction of the projects/programs or/and work in tandem with business leaders to tell the CSR story.

One would think that telling the CSR story is easy game. After all, what can go wrong when you want to share your story of doing good? Who does not want to hear the outcome of the many projects/programs that your organisation runs? The media may show interest, but, the truth is that you have to make your CSR story interesting, intriguing and inviting. Your story needs to demonstrate the true value of your CSR program. It needs to have the right messaging and right context. And you should know exactly which communication channel to use and when. 

While a press release is the standard route to take, there are many new channels and platforms that can be used to tell your CSR story effectively and emphatically. 

Online tools

While Indian laws now make it mandatory to report CSR spends and provide a brief on the projects, websites can be used to say much more. How about developing a microsite for your key projects? The microsite can have details of the projects outlined, the spends, the impact, the outcome, etc. Also think of a sustainability report that has a far more detailed approach to CSR reporting than the standard mandated framework provided by the government.

New recruits are always keen to know the cause and the social projects that the organisation is associated with. Developing a Facebook page for your special project is an easy way to retain the interest of your followers on the good that your organisation is doing. It can also initiate meaningful conversations on what’s working and what can be improved. Tap into YouTube and create your own CSR channel. Ensure your story is heard.

Webinars

Webinars are excellent when you want to engage with your audience and/or impart sustainability skills and trainings. By having your CSR leaders organise webinars you can brand your organisation as a leader in key CSR and sustainability areas. 

Case studies

If you truly believe in the uniqueness and success of your CSR project, reach out to business schools and partner with them to develop a case study for your project. Do not limit yourself to mere Indian business schools. Many foreign business universities are interested in projects that have a high value impact across the triple bottom line.

Typically, a case study would do a deep SWOT analysis of your project and will be able to showcase the impact and outcome. Through this tool, your project becomes a learning example for business students. Your organisational brand also gets deeply entrenched.

Presenting at forums

If you are new in CSR and are still finding your way on how to communicate your projects, begin by attending events, conferences and programs. Be seen at important discussions. Raise a pertinent question. Needless to say, network. Then, seek opportunities to present your project. CSR professionals would love to hear and listen to success stories. Conferences can be a great learning ground.

Thanks to the CSR regulations, there are many platforms that you can participate in to share and present your unique CSR project. The key here is to be authentic and genuine with your story. Remember, only if your CSR project is unique that it will make for a compelling presentation.

Showcase via magazines/journals

Dedicated CSR magazines and niche journals are a good way to get your CSR story in. You can also beyond mere description of a successful project. Write about your experience in implementing a CSR strategy. Or share how partnerships work for you. You can also have an authored article by your CEO outlining the company’s philosophy where CSR is concerned. 

Through your partners

Strategic CSR is also all about partnerships and collaborations. Your stories, your brand value and the success of your program can be best sharpened if your partners speak for you. Work with your partners to ensure their contributions are highlighted through their communication channels.

Beneficiary testimonies

Last but not the least, create testimonies of your beneficiaries as a give-away for your important stakeholders like the government and partners. When your beneficiaries speak about the impact of your project it has the power to create strong connections and further deepen the authenticity of that particular project. Ensure you have legal consents from your beneficiaries and that you are transparent in this whole journey.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head Communications & Public Affairs (CPA) at Bayer - South Asia
Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, trade associations, MNCs and the not-for-profit.
An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specialises in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications.
She is passionate about animals, books and movies.

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