Small businesses giving back: why CSR isn’t just for multi-nationals

Hundreds of small businesses got behind Clean Up Australia Day last week. Image source – www.cleanup.org.au

While many small businesses view both time and money as a barrier to developing a CSR strategy, they’re merely a minor speed bump at the start of what is potentially an ongoing road of strong community engagement and brand recognition.

For years, companies have edged their way closer to customers and now – through new media – they’re closer than they ever expected to be. This means modern day consumers (and stakeholders) now have an expectation of corporate behavior and choose to engage or work with businesses that do some kind or ‘good’ work for society.

Charitable initiatives that boost a business’s profile locally and engage with the community without direct business interest can produce long term commercial gain. After all, it’s a well-known fact that consumers (read: your customers) will often choose to engage or work with a company they know have values closely aligned with their own.

For small business this could be as simple as providing help at a grass-roots level – volunteering at a local homeless shelter or aged care facility, or donating (time or money) to a cause that is close to the community’s heart such as the local school, sports club or helping a family that’s doing it tough.

To ensure a CSR strategy is successful, it should always be executed with the full support of the organisation delivering it – otherwise it will look like an ‘add on’ initiative for commercial gain. Today’s consumers aren’t stupid, and they will easily understand your intentions.

It is therefore important that CSR activity is communicated appropriately and sensitively, so as not to appear like you are ‘tooting your own horn’. Good work should be done because it will make a difference and a business should never seek thanks or expect plaudits for it.

However, that’s not to say it shouldn’t be recognised. Indeed, we work with hundreds of franchisees who get their hands dirty in their local area and we have carefully told this story to their local community without sounding ‘preachy’. We have simply narrated their contribution to the local area which has resulted in a boost of business for many.

It could be as simple as communication through social media. This small Aussie business below participated in Clean Up Australia Day yesterday and simply shared its involvement through Instagram.

Clean up Australia Day!  We got a range hood, tyre and heaps of other goodies at Point Addis today!  Do your bit at your local park or beach.#cleanupaustralia #ecotourism @take3cleanbeach @surfrider #pointaddis #dontdestroywhatyoucometoenjoy #surf #summer #greatoceanroad  #torquay #australia @cleanupaustralia

So if you haven’t already incorporated CSR into your business strategy, it’s time to take action. Regardless of the size of your business you can make a real difference in your community without having to spend huge amounts of time or money in doing so. Give back this year – and it will undoubtedly give back to you, too.

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