As brands become increasingly purpose driven and their employees insist on higher standards of culture, diversity and transparency, companies will have no choice but to invest in more ambitious CSR exercises for their brand.
Simply talking a good game via their blogs and social media channels will no longer be enough. Instead we will have to see “Acts not ads”, as one creative chief put it. This is all good stuff and I think will result in some really exciting activity, but it also presents a challenge around resource. After all, if the goal is to truly make a difference, how can companies do that when they’re simultaneously struggling to pay their bills and wages?
I believe there may be a simple answer – relationships with charities.
There is nothing new about working with third sector organisations. Companies have been doing it for years. But I’m not talking about a bit of fundraising or a occasional donation, I’m talking about a true partnership. A partnership through which you each become central to the fulfilment of one another’s vision.
In taking this approach, the company can continue to focus on its principle goal, to make money, and bring much of that commercial clout and strategic expertise to the relationship. Meanwhile, the charity can bring their expertise to the table, which is likely to include fundraising, event management and the thousand operational and regulatory challenges involved in being a non-profit.
The key is in finding a charity that you not only believe in, but whose vision overlaps significantly with your own, albeit from a very different perspective. For example, if you work in technology and your vision is to enable people to spend more time doing important work by automating simple, repetitive tasks, then why not find a charity that also seeks to improve lives through technology? There is a natural alignment that enables you to each benefit from the activity of the other, without any competition or conflict of interest.