CSR: corporate self interest or giving back?


I’m thinking this week about CSR, a term that has apparently been around for about 50 years now. It’s a broad idea and sometimes people express some cynicism at what’s perceived to be a bit of a whitewash, or a way for big companies to put on a friendly face for the purposes of PR. In other words, it’s all essentially self-serving.

I have to say in my business experience I’ve heard corporate executives privately complain that it is just unrealistic window-dressing, and more brutally a distraction from the business, which is only ever to keep shareholders happy by turning in a profit.
I’ve also seen, and been inspired by, what I think are genuine efforts to make things better.

Whatever you think I know where I am: CSR is good, it’s useful and it’s there for the taking. That may be a bit ambitious, so let me say this instead: it’s there for the asking.

I think of it in broad terms as giving something back, and yes that may be beneficial in terms of taxation purposes for some organisations, but I’d rather business gave something away than nothing.

Giving back is a concept I find very motivating and without wanting to sound too ‘soft’ it really does inform and underline the ethos of our agency.
At StexfGiving we want to give back by pioneering a unique set-up that will demonstrate the values we hold. Yes, we have wages to pay and bills to settle but we don’t do this for the money alone. We envisage a virtuous cycle where our profits go back to helping other charities achieve their vision. Winston Churchill said: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” And that’s why we give back, to our clients and to our associates.

Where this dovetails for us is I am pretty excited by several meetings, now in advanced stages, with some CSR departments, including lunch with one today.

Identifying opportunities, building new collaborations and letting go of outdated business perspectives for me means seeing CSR as a very desirable target, so I hope to be able to speak more specifically (and triumphantly!) very soon, and a few more meetings in the coming weeks will hopefully see some CSR money coming the way of smaller charities that StexFGiving want to help – it’s charities and not for profits who can really do a lot with a little. And it’s a way both can give back.