Think corporate social responsibility (CSR) means recycling printer paper or sponsoring a local baseball team?

Think bigger.

Think New York’s Citi Bike sharing program, Tom’s Shoes donating to a child in need for every pair purchased, or Starbucks’ sustainably grown coffee.

Most companies realize how important CSR is, but many may have a hard time deciding on an appropriate program. The key is to build, implement and communicate a strategy that works and fits within the company values.

Here are five key questions to ask yourself when planning a CSR program:

  1. Lead – How will you claim an ownable CSR leadership position? Take stock of what your competitors and industry leaders are doing and look for an opportunity to lead on an issue.
  2. Integrate – How will you embed CSR into the goals of every business function? Show how CSR ties to the business strategy and create an open dialogue to share the vision and goals for CSR.
  3. Partner – How will you create value through collaboration? Find ways to enlist partners as diverse, vocal advocates to share the CSR story.
  4. Engage – How will you excite and enlist key audiences to take action? Offer creative, compelling ways to engage. Build interactive tools to drive ongoing engagement.
  5. Measure – How will you capture and share your impact? CSR is a journey. Develop a long-term view, but also look for opportunities to engage stakeholders in communicating results.


A strategic, thoughtful approach to CSR will not only ensure you’re creating a program that will have an impact, but one that will engage in meaningful ways with your key audiences – including your customers.

We’d love to hear about your favorite CSR campaigns. Which companies do you think are doing something impactful or unique?

Photo courtesy of Amsterdamized.

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