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Embracing Corporate Social Responsibility: You Get What You Give

Steve Susina • April 26, 2013

In wake of the earthquake, tsunami and now the nuclear meltdown in Japan, I immediately ask myself “What can I do to help?”  Unfortunately, my $50 donation won’t stretch very far, so how can other organizations, mainly companies, band together to make a larger impact?


More and more, I see companies embracing the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), These businesses take an active role in giving back to society. Companies are realizing the importance of being socially responsible, particularly because consumers are taking notice.

why we give back:

Even though some companies may be hesitant to shell out cash, there are a lot of benefits to CSR:

  • Customer Loyalty: 88% of consumers say that they would switch from one brand to another (all else being equal) if the brand was associated with a good cause.
  • Branding: Many of the organizations that receive donations reciprocate by including company logos or names in any type of press. As CEO John Chambers of CISCO says, strong corporate citizenship isn’t just charity, “it’s also a critical element of a company’s brand and reputation.”
  • Recruiting: 79% percent of people say that they would prefer to work for a socially responsible company.
  • Tax Breaks: The most loved word for any corporate accountant. It is always nice to see money come back during tax season.

who is giving back:

Being socially responsible isn’t left for churches, non-profits, or large corporations with deep pockets. There are many companies, both large and small, that are finding ways to donate their time, services, and money. Yeah, some companies may turn their giving into a humungous PR campaign, but I don’t really care and I doubt the people receiving their help really care either. Here are just a few examples of different companies finding unique ways to give back:

  • As part of the company’s innovative Loads of Hope program, Tide brings mobile laundromats to areas devastated by natural disasters and clean residents’ clothes at no charge.
  • Lee Jeans encourages people to wear denim to the office for a day in exchange for a $5 donation to fund breast cancer research. More than 3,000 businesses agreed to participate in what became known as Lee National Denim Day, raising $1.4 million for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
  • Sonic, a chain of drive-in restaurants, introduced the Limeades for Learning program, its largest philanthropic campaign ever. Customers who bought Sonic’s signature limeade were directed to where they could vote for their favorite teacher’s classroom project. After the votes were tallied, Sonic donated over half a million dollars to fund the 1,457 winning teachers’ projects across the country.
  • Patagonia co-founded 1% For the Planet, an alliance of businesses pledging to commit at least 1 percent of their total sales to environmental causes. Every year since 1985, Patagonia donates either 1 percent of their total sales or 10 percent of their total profits, whichever one is more, to environmental causes determined by customer ballot. To date, Patagonia has donated over $25 million to over 1,000 organizations. Patagonia also allows their employees to take time off their jobs and work for the environmental group of their choice, all while still continuing to pay their salaries and benefits while they’re gone.
  • Maui Jim, one of the fastest growing polarized sunglass makers in the world, hosts the annual “Dive For Cover”, an event where people pay (yes actually pay) to jump into a lake in the middle of winter. The money raised helps keep the women and children at the local South Side Mission’s shelter warm.

how to give back:

Here is the best part about CSR:  Just like any one person can give back, any company can also find ways to give back to their community.

  • Donate Items: Coordinate a drive or collection of goods in your area
  • Donate Blood: Set up a blood drive at your office
  • Donate Time: Join a Community Service Organization or Sit on a Board
  • Donate Used Items: old computers or office supplies can always be used at local schools or non profits. Before throwing things away, make a call.
  • Partner with Other Businesses: If you don’t feel your donation will be substantial enough for your choice organization, ask a partner to chip in.
  • Donate Services: If you can provide a service for money, there should be a way for you to provide a service for no money.
  • Donate Money: It can be as simple as having a change jar in the break room or setting up a donation page your company website.

I can not tell you how happy it makes me to see more and more companies adopting a culture that focuses on giving back. It is almost a requirement these days. And why shouldn’t it be? Yes, any company’s main focus is to make a profit rather than give money away. But as many companies are finding out, the benefits outweigh the cost. Apparently, even when it comes to the corporate world, the New Radicals and our moms were right – you truly do get what you give.


So this naturally begs the question: What is your company doing to give back?  If you don’t have an answer, here is a great place to start.

Steve Susina

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Steve Susina

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