A social impact program is an easy and inexpensive way to get more customers, encourage investors, attract future employees, create a more loyal customer base and workforce, and even save money if you choose to focus on saving energy and natural resources. In addition to these benefits, you can also help your fellow man and better preserve our planet for future generations. What’s not to love? Start creating your organization’s social impact program today using these 7 easy steps.
1. Establish buy-in from your leadership team.
Before creating a social impact or corporate social responsibility program, make sure your leadership team is on board. Gather examples of other successful corporate social responsibility initiatives in your industry or similar industries. Then schedule a meeting to discuss the benefits of a social impact program. It will be difficult to create and implement a plan if your leadership team does not fully support the effort.
2. Brainstorm a few causes that align with your organization.
Study the mission and values of your organization. Then consider how your business impacts the environment and other people. Finally, get creative!
For example, if you own a restaurant, you might want to consider adding more plant-based options to your menu, provide compostable to-go containers, and eliminate plastic straws. However, if you work for a small hotel, focusing on ending human trafficking makes more sense. In fact, many hotels already train their employees to recognize signs of human trafficking. Brainstorm causes that align with your mission and the products or services you provide.
3. Find out what your employees are passionate about.
Schedule a casual meeting where employees can discuss causes they are passionate about and causes they think your customers might care about. Before asking for their input, review the organization’s mission and values, and briefly mention the ideas you brainstormed to help spark conversation. Then listen hard. Your employees will be much more likely to buy into your social impact program if they help create it.
4. Keep it simple with partnerships.
There are many wonderful causes out there to support, but unless you are ready to hire a full-time Sustainability or Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, keep the program simple. Consider partnering with a local nonprofit who is willing to help you create a program or may already have established partnership opportunities that align with the ideas your organization came up with.
For example, a home improvement store could partner with Habitat for Humanity by volunteering or by accepting donations on their behalf. Habitat for Humanity already has processes in place for partnerships like this so working with Habitat will be much easier than trying to build houses for the less fortunate on your own.
5. Write it down and clearly communicate the plan.
Your social impact program doesn’t mean much if no one knows about it. Once you have decided what your organization will focus on, write it down and share it with employees, board members, customers, and consider sending it to the press. Communicate how others can get involved and encourage those in your industry to follow your footsteps. Corporate social responsibility is not a competition, and we should encourage others to join us.
6. Be consistent.
The best way to stay consistent is by putting a few employees in charge of your social impact program. Allow them to use company time to discuss the program and plan regular events such as fundraisers or volunteer opportunities throughout the year.
7. Regularly measure and report progress.
Require reporting on exactly what is being done and what the impacts of the program are. Did your employees build 3 houses this year, raise $10,000 for a cause, or save 600 gallons of water by installing low flow faucets? Did 30% of your customers choose to shop with you over a competitor because of your social impact program? You will never know if you don’t measure the impacts of your program.
Stay authentic and honest.
These tips will hopefully help you get started! The social impact and sustainability world is vast and there is a lot more information out there. Also, some individuals and groups monitor organizations for signs of greenwashing so it is extremely important to stay honest and keep any promises you make. However, as long as you stay authentic, your organization will only benefit from implementing a social impact program.