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CSR for entrepreneurs

corporate social responsibility for entrepreneurs

One of the things we believe around here is that we should make the world a better place. We know that big business has a role to play but I strongly believe entrepreneurs, and small businesses can make a difference far more quickly than a big business can.

If you want to get all business about it were talking Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR. There are many definitions but I like this one:

“Social responsibility is the responsibility of an organisation for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behaviour that Contributes to sustainable development, including the health and the welfare of society; Takes into account the expectations of stakeholders; Is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behaviour, and; Is integrated throughout the organization and practised in its relationships.”

In real life this can look like all sorts of things (volunteering hours, cash donations, participating in fundraising activities, raising awareness, buying certain products and beyond) but forms part of a businesses overall community strategy.

So how can entrepreneurs strategically make a difference? I have a couple of suggestions:

  1. pick causes that you are passionate about but that your audience may also be passionate about:
    I believe that when women thrive their community thrives; since most of my audience are also women I believe feel similarly.  Our cat Rory is a part of our family and I want other animals to be as well cared for as he is; quite a few of you seem to animal lovers as well. Having your period should not ruin your day or ability to work/learn but for many it does; running your own business you can’t just take a day off.
  2. pick a max of 3 so you can give them plenty and equal attention
    The three causes outlined above have so many projects within that you could support – thriving women runs the gamut of everything from clean water to contraception to education – that if I had anymore all I ever talked about would be the work they do.  Since my goal is actually to make marketing easy for female entrepreneurs that doesn’t fit with my overall business goals.
  3. think small, you don’t have to raise $1million to make a difference
    Charities are always short on cash so any money will help – raising $1million might get your name on a plague but even $100 will help make a difference. A side of this is that perhaps what you have to give is airtime – do you have a podcast where you could interview a CEO on their business that both raises awareness of the cause + helps listeners or could you share some content at the same time as a heap of other influencers to help make a really big noise (think of all the royal bloggers who’ve been helping raise the conversation about mental health lately who were simply covering where William, Catherine and Harry have been)
  4. know why you want to help and be able to tell a personal story (no one wants to think your business has jumped on a “trendy” cause)
    Having worked in the charity sector for a long time now I have seen my share of random corporate partnerships. Not only does it look off brand for the organisation but it also makes people question your motives – an obvious example, Maccas supporting kids sport which is great of them but can’t help making people wonder if they just want to associate weekends with a cheeseburger.
  5. contribute in a variety of ways that suit you, your business and your passions
    sign a petition, share a post from their page on social, buy a different product, post a donation link on your website, start a fundraiser and get your clients to donate, use a different supplier to ensure your products meet with your standards (and not just obvious things, e.g. look at where your super fund invests to ensure it aligns with your business values), buy a table at a charity event for friends/clients, share your story in a post on your blog, take part in a day. There are so many ways that you can get involved to help out a cause you are passinonate about – the most important thing is that you do something at all.

Around here we aim to make the world better in many ways, these are just some of those. Because periods suck but mine not as bad as others I contribute to Share the Dignity, I use Tsuno and Cottons sanitary products because if the big sanitary products see the benefit of organic products and supporting these organisations change will occur. Because not all cats have the life Rory does, and his company helps me get through lonely days working at home, I support The Mini Kitty Commune and Animal Welfare League NSW but I also support Animals Australia because its not just the cute animals that I think deserve to be well cared for (which is also why I buy free-range eggs and even ask for them at cafes). I buy Who Gives a Crap toilet paper because the idea of not having a toilet doesn’t sit right with me. It also does not hurt that these companies all run great marketing campaigns and many of them are small businesses.

Know that as an entrepreneur you have the ability to make a difference. Do not be shy telling your clients and suppliers what you stand for and why; one person might not change the world but a million small action will definitely start something. How is your business changing the world?

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