Social Responsibility: Being Strategic About Community Investment

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By Kecia Carroll, Canopy Advisor

It goes by many names:  corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporate citizenship, community relations to name a few.  The intent is the same. It’s about a company’s responsibility to invest in the communities in which it serves; about addressing social and environmental challenges while driving economic growth.  Put another way, it means not just caring about the bottom line, but what you can do with the bottom line.
It’s about having an impact.

It’s also about attracting customers or partners who share your values, attracting and retaining employees who like what you stand for and delighting investors or other stakeholders who are looking for positive growth metrics.
So we’ve touched on the ‘why’.  What about the ‘how’?  Here are a few steps to get you thinking more strategically about your community investment:

  1. Identify your most important key audiences, internally and externally.
  2. Engage in meaningful dialogue.  Find out what is important to them.  How might you be able to fill a gap?
  3. Look inward.  What does your company do best?  And how can you apply that to meet the needs of your key audiences?
  4. Align your objectives and your resources.
  5. Communicate.  And I don’t mean marketing.  Listen, share, and respond.  Demonstrate commitment.

For many companies, community investment is synonymous with Board leadership or volunteer projects.  Others write generous checks.  Any investment in the community is a good one.  These steps will help ensure your company’s community investment is also a strategic one.

Kecia Carroll is a marketing and communications consultant working with companies and professional service firms on connecting their branding, community investment and business development strategies to further their mission.  Kecia most recently worked as a marketing strategist for Canopy client Front Range Bank.  Connect with her at [email protected], or @keciacarroll.

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