How to Make Social Impact a Part of Your Company From Day One

There is a new trend in the tech industry and we couldn’t love it more. Young companies are taking corporate social responsibility seriously and going beyond grant giving in creative ways. Companies are focused on establishing programs that get employees excited about giving back in their own communities.

At HandUp, we help you give directly to specific people in need in your neighborhood. The difference you can make goes beyond the financial -- you can also send words of encouragement and help build a safety net for someone who doesn’t have much support in their life. This direct connection with the community gives back on both ends, to the donor and recipient.

There is so much possibility when building a CSR program from scratch but the challenge is creating something that’s relevant AND makes a difference. Below are few lessons learned from our experiences and key best practices to kickstart your social impact strategy. Your company, no matter what size, can make social impact a part of your business from day one.

  1. Define your shared purpose — In business, you can’t drive action and harness the power of your team if you don’t have a shared purpose. This is no different when thinking about your company’s corporate social responsibility strategy. How does your company’s mission translate into the social enterprise world? What values do you have as a company that align with a nonprofit’s values? For example, Spotify’s objective is to scale access to music with a team full of music lovers; no surprise their CSR strategy is aligned with youth and music programs.

  2. You don’t need to give away money — The first step in creating a social good program for your business doesn’t have to be grant giving. Offer your office space for events, extend discounted access to your product, or donate design, marketing and engineering time to many of the nonprofits who need it. Think about the talent you already have on your team and build a program around that. This will help you figure out where and how your efforts can have an impact before you put dollars behind a larger strategy.

  3. Literally, make it a part of day one — Why shouldn’t new employee onboarding experience include integrated social good? There are some pretty cool and easy ways to do this. For example, include Public Supply materials in your welcome package and with every purchase they give 25% of profits to a high-need classroom.

    You can also combine social good with employee recognition. Instead of giving a general gift card as a reward for great performance, why not give them a gift card that allows them donate to a local neighbor in need like with HandUp. There are many products that have a social impact element, figure out which ones align with your company’s values and make it a part of your ongoing efforts. If you normally have a budget for swag, you can make that swag meaningful both inside and outside the company.

  4. Think local — As a business operating in a local community, with employees living in the local community, it’s important to consider a strong element of local impact. People need transparency and want to see the outcome from their efforts — especially our younger generation of do gooders. This could mean part of your strategy is volunteering on a regular basis for a local organization, or your overall shared purpose is focused on a local need. For example, when San Francisco-based Keen IO hosted their conference KeenCon, they provided all attendees with HandUp gift cards to contribute to our local members. You can read the impact KeenCon attendees had in the San Francisco community on their blog.

  5. Uncover what your employees already doing — Someone on your team is most likely already involved with a social good organization. You’ll see programs have a higher success rate when they are driven by an internal advocate who is passionate about the cause. Empower your employees to continue doing what they’re already doing, and the chances are high they will organically grow the efforts across the company.

  6. You can start small — You don’t have to coordinate a massive strategy to start giving back. Taking small steps will help you better maintain authenticity while also figuring out what works best for your partnering nonprofits. Start with an MVP, pay attention to what’s making an impact and how your team responds to certain initiatives. Then use that valuable information to shape the next phases of your corporate social responsibility program.

Social responsibility as part of your business strategy is more than just giving back. It gives your team purpose beyond your business goals — when employees to feel like their work is meaningful it positively affects morale and longevity. We look forward to learning about what you’re planning in your organization!

A few pieces of other great reading on CSR trends: You Say You Want to Start a Corporate FoundationWhy Prioritizing Social Corporate Responsibility Will Strengthen Your Startup, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review is an ongoing source of great resources.