CSR: Good Ways for Small Business to Make a Positive Impact

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is getting a lot of attention in the business world and the mainstream media. I’ve blogged about it in the past, CSR: So What?, and have been advising customers that they should be considering a CSR strategy for their business. I take my own advice and include a CSR page on my website.

Recently I read an article at MarketingProfs titled Irresponsible Corporate Responsibility: Doing Good Isn’t Always Done Well. It highlighted 10 different ways a CSR program can fail a company and even harm its reputation. While there are pitfalls to a poorly implemented CSR program, it also made me realise how many options there were to use CSR to make a positive impact.

Share your expertise
Ryan Briggs started his own business in 2008 knowing that a CSR program would be part of his company strategy. A talented graphic designer, his intention is to make a positive impact working with non-profit organisations. Each year Ryan selects one project and donates his time and services to develop a fully functioning website. The lucky not-for-profit or charitable organisation he selects is left with an invaluable business asset and the ability to promote their cause on the internet. By making it part of his annual business planning, Ryan assures his CSR initiative is an important part of his company strategy and not treated as a inconvenient afterthought.

Champion your industry
Fitzgerald Photo Imaging has long been active in promoting professional and amateur photographers in Western Australia. Offering student discounts to people studying photography and providing exhibition opportunities and sponsorship, Fitzgerald Photo Imaging is supporting the next generation of photographers. Additionally, Fitzgerald Photo Imaging sponsors several different industry events including the prestigious FotoFreo and SiteUnseen photography showcases. They endorse the Western Australian AAIP awards through sponsorship of the event and individual awards within the event. With a newly established e-newsletter called The Fitz-e-news, Fitzgerald Photo Imaging is developing yet another avenue to advance the photography industry in their community and throughout Australia.

Support your favourite cause
Aaron Sice at Blue Card! Industries has a strong association with Oxfam Australia. He’s long been a supporter of their fight against poverty and donates money to them every month. His dedication extends to using Oxfam branding on his business cards. Blue Card! Industries gives the quirkiest of holiday gifts – ducks, goats and chickens to name a few – donated in the name of their customers and sent to needy communities around the world. If you ask me, it’s a nice change from the ubiquitous box of chocolate or bottle of wine.

Promote your community
Vicki Connolly’s CSR strategy is so ingrained in her neighbourhood restaurant, Victoria’s Delights, it’s impossible to separate it from her daily operations. Long before it was popular, Victoria Delights sourced a menu with locally grown meat and produce. Her insistence on using community businesses wherever possible has been instrumental in developing a rare customer loyalty in a highly competitive industry. While many people hunkered down to weather the Global Financial Crisis, Victoria’s Delights extended a helping hand to a non-profit agency working with troubled youth. In an ultimate display of CSR goodwill, Vicki established a partnership to teach kids how to grow healthy produce, which then supplies the agency and her restaurant. Vicki Connolly is proving good citizenship goes hand-in-hand with success.

These are just some of the ways small and medium businesses are successfully implementing CSR strategies. If you know of any other SMBs that are doing it right, I’d love to hear from you.