Making CSR sustainable in a post-Covid world

Two years ago, Covid-19 was suddenly introduced. This has had a profound impact on how we view the world, conduct business and live our lives. The pandemic, along with the devastating economic and social consequences that followed, have left many people in deep mourning and communities deeply scarred. CSR has been thrust to the forefront of many companies’ core strategies and requirements as India emerges from the pandemic.

CSR must be redefined and expanded to encompass more than just charity. We are seeing a rise in expectations that corporations and organizations should use their resources and expertise to assist the government in addressing societal crises.

A company will be more successful if it has a CSR program that is both sustainable and strategic. Corporate outreach efforts must be in line with their business model and expertise. They should also demonstrate value to employees, stakeholders, consumers, and the community. CSR must be an integral part of a business’s strategic priorities in order for corporate philanthropy.

While the situation of the last few years has tested our resilience, it has also reinforced many of our successful approaches–providing us opportunities to reflect on how to build sustainable and responsible practices.

Public-Private Partnerships to Create Sustainable Impact

The government has increased its support for and adoption of public-private partnerships (PPP) models in recent years. This ensures a more efficient delivery social development projects. PPP models are more effective than traditional approaches, particularly when large companies leverage their resources and scale. Many times, the government has established networks and infrastructure and conducted needs-based assessments in the field. While executing CSR campaigns, companies invest a great deal of time in identifying and selecting beneficiaries–supporting government programs, which are often more credible, saves resources and effort.

Corporates that work in isolation from government agencies and departments have been shown to be less productive. Alignment with government maximizes the value of underprivileged communities and the environment, while avoiding duplication. The government should encourage further collaboration between corporates and other organizations working in similar areas to help facilitate this.

A Collaborative Approach

Promoting social change is a challenge that cannot be met by a single company. If we work together, our efforts to create meaningful change can be multiplied. Collaborations between corporates lead to greater innovation, successful replicable models and the chance to tap into the strengths and skills of each company. Companies can collaborate openly to reach beyond their own capabilities and benefit society through combined intelligence.

The example of corporate collaboration during the second wave in the pandemic in Bangalore is a great example of how effective collaboration can be. Karnataka officials were chosen to quickly and immediately assess critical infrastructure requirements. They drew on the expertise of both the medical community as well as the relevant departments of government to create an operational and implementation plan. The Chief Minister of Karnataka appealed for corporate collaboration to fight the virus. Bangalore, which is home to many MNCs, rose up to the occasion. After the government identified public hospitals that were in dire need of funding, a consortium of corporates was able to come together and fund relief efforts.

Developing Long-Term Strategies

Social development is not something that can be achieved with short-term solutions. It is a steady, incremental process that requires a long-term vision. All stakeholders must buy in to it.

Although companies are quick to adapt to current economic, social, and health needs, it is more successful to invest in long-term or medium-term commitments towards society and vulnerable groups, particularly those who are closest to us. Development is boosted by contributions to sustainable infrastructure. This includes the healthcare system, food supply chains and livelihood support. CSR policies must promote and support sustainable development in our country and around the globe. Companies should look at these important issues when choosing projects and developing a CSR strategy.

These shared challenges will encourage further collaboration as companies and non-profits must work together to overcome existing gaps.

Building capacity and empowerment for non-governmental organizations

For the success and sustainability of CSR initiatives, it is vital to build capacity for non-profit partners. Many non-profit organizations struggle to reach their full potential and scale up at the required level to make an impact. Corporates can help to mitigate this by establishing programs that empower NGOs, such as strong leadership, sound governance, self-development, and skilling programs. This will help to build a non-profit ecosystem that is innovative and can solve problems together.

Promote a culture that gives

Your company’s CSR strategy should be based on its core competencies. The ideal balance between business and social returns will help ensure that the company’s strengths are used effectively towards the right cause. This will allow you to build a stronger relationship with your beneficiaries and communities.

It can be a good time to reevaluate our approach to CSR as we recover from the pandemic. This includes both policies and the elements required to bring about long-lasting changes. CSR can bring immense value to communities and companies, but it must be done right.

This will help you establish more sustainable and strategic CSR.