Being involved in the community can help with employee recruitment and satisfaction as well as reputation, according to Brooke Gabbert, vice president of corporate communications for Home Advisor. The company has 2,000 employees globally. It gives employees eight hours a year to volunteer at a charity of their choice. “We hear about it in employee reviews,” Gabbert told a meeting of PRSA Colorado. As a virtual company linking service professionals with homeowners, CSR “makes the company tangible to the community.”

HomeAdvisor.ap.iconWith 18,000 non-profits in Colorado, partnering with companies on CSR is a good way to raise awareness around a cause and also helps the company reinforce their brand awareness, said Gerri Howard, CEO of the Gomez Howard Group. For non-profits seeking a corporate partner, make sure the organization’s community engagement and social responsibility efforts align with the non-profit’s mission. “Make sure to build vertical relationships with companies,” Howard advised. “It needs to go deeper than a donation. Engagement with employees and aligning with marketing objectives will help build long-term relationships.

The vast majority of millenials (81 percent) expect corporations to be socially responsible, said Stephanie Blake of Blake Communications. “Get your executives onboard and create a policy,” she added. “Get HR involved early on.”

Blake Communications works with companies during CSR implementation, such as sponsors of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. “We focus on building relationships and experiences for our clients. By having the company and its employees in the community, CSR demonstrates that you care,” she explained.

Tips on CSR

  1. Do your homework. Two panelists recommended that companies do an audit to see what the company is already doing and what causes the CEO is passionate about.
  2. Set measurable goals. Don’t just count the number of volunteers, measure the impact: how many meals were served or children adopted because of the campaign.
  3. Take the long view. Communicate the CSR program as a slow build. It may take three to five years to show an impact.
  4. Don’t underestimate the financial commitment. Companies need to invest sufficient dollars to have the desired impact.
  5. Embed CSR in the corporate culture. Leadership can come from the top or the grassroots, but commitment to the cause needs to be authentic. The story needs to ring true for employees and the community to realize the full benefit.