Get the Message Out!

Bringing the CSR Program to the People: Three Ways to Get the Message Out

In my last article on LinkedIn, I wrote about how we developed our Corporate Social Responsibility program at Avista and got it off the ground.

Once you have that program going, how do you share it with clients and partners?

How does it become a core part of the business? More than a side project nice to do when there is time to do it?

Here are three of my ideas. I’d love to hear yours in the comments.

1. Incorporate the company’s CSR program into holiday gift giving.

At Avista, we include a gift to one of our partner non-profit organizations with our holiday gifts every year.

The gifts are designed to meet two goals:

  • They must genuinely benefit the partner organization.
  • They must align with our marketing, messaging, and goals for that year.

Some Examples:

Emphasizing a great place to work?
When we were putting significant company energy to creating a great place to work, including moving to a new office with space for table tennis, we gave our clients games, too with a card about a donation in their honor (board and world-building games for teens) to Ronald McDonald House.

Building operational excellence?
Another year we were focused on building operational excellence. Our holiday gifts to our top clients mirrored that and were related to building personal strength, flexibility, and playfulness. With our branded gym bag, jump ropes, and water bottles, we also included a card sharing that in their honor we’d donated gym equipment to Northeast College Prep.

Focusing on growing profitably?
With a focus of profitable growth, we again partnered with Northeast College Prep and our donation was co-sponsoring a kindergarten field trip to the zoo as a culmination of their unit on life-cycles.

2. Include everyone on the holiday mailing list in the gift donation.

It’s great for the top clients to know about the donation, but what about everyone else who gets a holiday card? A card insert is a great way to communicate with everyone who receives a holiday card from your organization to know that your company has a heart and a soul.

3. Find ways to bring the CSR program to life in the office and make it visible.

Some Examples:

Ronald McDonald House will send your office cardboard houses to collect pop tabs to help fund their work.

At Avista we named our conference rooms after places in Minnesota. One of them is Eagle Mountain Conference Room and features photos and brochures from the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. One of the photos is of Harriet, the center’s famous eagle ambassador, who died recently at 35-years-old.

Community Involvement
Partner with local artists and everyone wins. We have two picture rails near the ceiling in our conference rooms. Every six months, one or more artists show their work on our walls. During an open house and reception at the closing of the show, artists sell their work and visitors are introduced to Avista.

Retiring Technology
I can’t imagine there is an office today that doesn’t use technology. Many of our offices have the ability to replace our technology every few years, and need to retire desk tops, lap tops, tablets, phones, and more that still work and just need to be cleaned up and given a new home. An organization like Ujamaa Place which has a computer lab for the people it serves can benefit from such a donation. If that donation coincides with volunteering in their career development program and teaching computer skills, it becomes visible to the volunteering employees without much fanfare.

We are just one business, a technology services company, and we’ve got fewer than 50 employees.

In the past few years we’ve done things like:

  • Filled a family room at a Ronald McDonald House with games for teens who are living there while they or a younger sibling are receiving critical medical care.
  • Raised thousands of dollars for Be the Match and the MS Society.
  • Packed back-to-school backpacks for children calling a domestic violence shelter home.
  • Co-sponsored a kindergarten zoo field trip for a classroom of children most of whom had never been to a zoo.
  • Donated gym equipment.
  • Shared information about the National Eagle Center with hundreds of people.
  • Collected pounds and pounds of pop tabs.
  • Volunteered at Ujamaa Place providing a computer skills class and mock interviews for men working incredibly hard to transform their lives.

These things aren’t a distraction. They are part of the core of who we are at Avista. They are part of what it means to work at Avista, and part of what it means to partner with Avista.

Can you imagine the impact if every business our size developed a CSR program and then engaged in a few of these ways to get the message out?

All of the research points to how good a CSR program is for business.
I think that’s fabulous.
But really? I’m in it because of how good it is for everything.

Okay. Your turn. What are your ideas? I can’t wait to hear them.