When I sat in class a decade ago, my business professors were all about the hot topic buzzwords like synergy and Corporate Social Responsibility, among others. As students, we were inspired with the idea that companies recognize their ability, and even more so their obligation, to give back to society. And, around this time, we started to notice that several financial institutions were pairing up with large nationwide charities.
This was a great start in the right direction. However, the larger the corporations, the larger the administrative costs, and consequently more money got spent investing in the framework of the organizations, as opposed to the individuals whose quality of life they are mandated to improve.
Many of us have worked for organizations that have taken some measures to support charities. For example, United Way Day is a common occurrence in organizations. Often on a Friday, for a nominal fee ($2.00-$5.00), employees are allowed to dress Friday-casual.
However, let’s not mistake this for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Having employees fund a charitable initiative using their after-tax earnings is not the same thing: real CSR is a business funding charitable initiative with monies or incentives that directly impact their bottom line.
Recently in Durham Region, we saw how local business owners were reigniting the importance of reinvesting in their communities. Businesses such as ACE’s Automotive spend part of their annual marketing budget advertising on the radio when they are collecting gifts and goods for LOCAL charitable organizations.
This is really what it means to go above and beyond. Not only is ACE’s exercising Corporate Social Responsibility, but furthermore, the business is taking it one step further and actually dedicating a portion of their marketing dollars to advertise the initiative.
What inspired the owner of ACE’s Automotive to start down this track? The direct transfer of perishable and consumable goods from his location to the dispensing location means that he knows the local donations from his clients are being returned to local residents. This is the best part – the donations we make here in Durham in hopes of making people’s lives that much better, are in fact being realized here, with perhaps your neighbor or your waitress, or your child’s best friend’s family.
Somewhere along the way while the CSR initiative was a good idea in theory, it failed on its execution when people became disconnected from the good that they were doing. People need to see their impact in order to build momentum. That’s why when local businesses partner with local organizations, they can identify what is the greatest local/regional need. This is how we will begin rebuilding our communities.
What are the best ways to inspire individuals to invest in our communities?
Corporate Social Responsibility from local businesses is an excellent step in the right direction, but what’s more? What other options are available to us as residents, business owners, volunteers, that we could exercise to inspire people to care?
Definitely, companies like ACE’s Automotive are starting down the right path. How could we encourage these kinds of businesses to continue to partner with these organizations and initiatives?
Email your ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org . If you know of other Durham businesses doing the same, please reach out and share, so they can be recognized too. Let’s not wait any longer than we need to before we start making things better!