Social Responsibility for Small Businesses; Corporate Responsibility and Brand Image

Social Responsibility for Small Businesses; Corporate Responsibility and Brand Image


Corporate social responsibility and corporate philanthropy have become synonymous concepts and buzzwords in today’s business world. While these concepts are often intertwined, corporate philanthropy is used as a tool or as a compliment to an overall corporate social responsibility mandate. The benefits apparent with a commitment to social responsibility are inherently to do good, or rather less harm. However, there are more and more positive ways that a corporate social responsibility strategy can benefit business.

What is the difference? Corporate philanthropy involves monetary donations that a company gives to the non-profit or charitable sector. Corporate social responsibility goes beyond monetary exchange; while philanthropic donations can be a part of this strategy, social responsibility is typically a set of ethical commitments geared towards engaging with community in a positive way. Corporate social responsibility is the ethical stance which a company takes and how it develops a relationship with its local or global community.

What are the benefits? As we have previously discussed, the inherent benefits are an overall social betterment, however, more and more consumers look for companies that are taking ethical stances, developing solid environmental commitments and investing in social philanthropy. Social responsibility also tends to have a ‘trickle down’ effect; while participating in betting the broader global community, it can help to boost brand image and the overall perception of your company by the consumer. Investing in philanthropic projects also has a positive marketing effect; it increases brand visibility and connects your brand with meaningful charities. While the overall concept can feel overwhelming, there are some simples that your company can take to make ethical commitments towards developing a social responsibility strategy.

Small steps for implementing a corporate social responsibility strategy:

  1. Commitments to sustainability: Sustainability has become a major objective for most organizations. Consumers are looking for companies who commit to sustainability and lessening corporate environmental impacts. The savvy shopper is keen to symbols and messages which relay a commitment to the environment. Whatever your current sustainability efforts are, ensure that they are clearly visible on your retail packaging and POP displays.
  2. Recycle! This may be a no-brainer and the easiest strategy to follow through on. Move towards using 100% recyclable material for any and all packaging products; anything from your corrugated boxes, cardboard displays to your retail displays. Ensure that your consumer (and retailer) know that it is recyclable. Further, it is beneficial to be conscious of the content of the paper-based products that you are using. What percentage of the material is recycled vs virgin? The more and more you work towards sustainability, the more consumers will consciously seek out your brand.
  3. Join a ‘helping’ organization: a great example of this is the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI). SFI is an organization dedicated to sustainable forest management across North America by partnering with local conservation groups, communities and resource professions. Joining and becoming certified by sustainability leaders such as SFI can work to build brand image by showing your commitment to the environment.

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