The Three Important Corporate Social Responsibility Trends of 2020

|6 min read Nonprofit Marketing

In recent years, there has been a growing demand for brands to take accountability and champion social causes. Whether you’re looking to adopt new initiatives or create your own program, you should consider following these three corporate social responsibility trends in 2020. This will not only help your brand stay relevant, but it will also help improve your organization’s bottom line.

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What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to any corporate effort to improve a brand’s environmental or social impact. While CSR programs look different for every company, they all share a common goal of enacting positive change while building trust with consumers.

Why is corporate social responsibility important?

When consumers shop at a socially conscious company, they feel like they are doing their part to promote change. A strong corporate social responsibility strategy can help convert one-time customers into lifetime supporters, making it an essential part of any business’s strategy. It can also:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Attract new customers
  • Develop stronger relationships with existing customers
  • Generate positive publicity
  • Boost sales

More and more brands are adopting new CSR initiatives to attract and retain Gen Z supporters, which is on track to become the biggest consumer population. They care about a variety of causes and prefer to support organizations promoting social change. At the end of the day, implementing a CSR program is an easy way for companies to improve their bottom line by doing good.

Top three trends in corporate social responsibility

If your brand is looking to launch a CSR program but can’t decide on which cause to support, look no further. To make sure your initiatives are relevant and timely, we identified the top three CSR trends to follow in 2020.

1. Carbon neutrality

For centuries, corporations have contributed to rising carbon emissions with little to no oversight. As the effects of climate change become more apparent, consumers are asking brands to hold themselves accountable and work towards carbon neutrality.

To achieve this, companies must find ways to balance their environmental impact. Look for ways to offset your brand’s carbon footprint, whether it’s sourcing sustainable materials or donating to environmental organizations or investing in green technology.

Climate change transcends borders and affects us all. Therefore, it should be our collective responsibility to fight the effects of climate change and protect our planet. Plugging into this trend will help your company attract environmentally conscious shoppers, and reduce your costs.

2. Diversity and inclusion

We would like to preface this by saying that diversity and inclusion should not be a trend, rather the norm. As a society, we have a long way to go before achieving equity across all institutions–corporations included.

As injustice dominates the national conversation, there has been increasing pressure on corporations to hire and promote diverse candidates within their companies. This ensures that employees of all backgrounds are represented by people in positions of power. When identifying areas for improvement, here are some questions to ask:

  • How can your company be more intentional when it comes to recruiting people from different backgrounds?
  • How can your corporate culture be more inclusive?
  • How is your company addressing inherent biases?
  • How are you going to measure diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Again, we urge you to consider this as an opportunity to improve your company and fight for justice, rather than adopting the latest trend. Continue to champion diversity, long after the spotlight shifts to something else in national media. This will only benefit your company as you bring more talent and perspectives to the table.

3. Community Engagement

When brands invest in their local communities, everybody wins. Philanthropic initiatives, like hosting food drives or volunteering or donating to local nonprofits, can go a long way. They can help bridge any tension between the two groups, create a positive brand image, promote deeper employee engagement, and more. Not to mention, it helps serve the community in places that need it most.

If there is a natural disaster in an area where your business operates, consider donating a portion of proceeds to helping people rebuild. Or, come up with another way to support the community that supports your organization

How to get started on your own corporate social responsibility plan

Supporting a cause isn’t enough. It takes a lot of planning and dedication to get your CSR program off the ground. We understand that starting is often the hardest part, which is why we came up with three key considerations when developing your corporate social responsibility plan.

Lead with your values

Be authentic–consumers are quick to identify when brands are pandering to them instead of driving actual change. Only commit to causes you or your employees are genuinely passionate about. Consider creating a mission statement for your CSR program. This will help ensure that your brand stays true to its values and makes a difference, rather than taking advantage of social issues for profit.

Back the right organizations

If your organization has the ability and resources, you can create an in-house philanthropic team that runs charitable initiatives for your brand. This gives your brand more oversight and empowers your organization to develop CSR programs that complement your brand’s offerings. For inspiration, check out Dawn’s Wildlife campaign.

Companies that want to take a philanthropic approach can also do this by supporting the right nonprofits rather than creating their own internal team. Before you partner with a charitable organization, make sure to vet them for credibility, and determine whether the partnership would be a good fit.

Get employees involved

Getting employee buy-in is a key component to a successful CSR program. Create excitement around your company’s social responsibility plan and encourage participation. According to GlobalHR Research, workplace philanthropy can:

  • Attract new talent–especially millennials
  • Improve employee engagement and satisfaction
  • Demonstrate ethical responsibility
  • Promote leadership and team building

Hosting volunteering opportunities or offering to donation matching to employees are two of the most popular forms of workplace philanthropy. These programs are becoming increasingly popular as both CSR initiatives and recruitment strategies. Everybody wins!

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