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10 Ways to Reimagine Your Corporate Social Responsibility Program

By August 19, 2020

While providing employees with meaningful ways to give back remains top of mind for employers, corporate social responsibility (CSR) leaders in particular have to strengthen their partnership with human resources to care for employees’ wellbeing and keep them engaged and healthy, both physically and mentally. As crises magnify existing inequalities, organizations, institutions, and businesses also realize they must urgently respond to the needs of their communities, ensuring they maintain economic viability while also laying the foundation for a just, equal, and integrated society.

Employees need clear safety guidelines for in-person volunteering.

Employees need clear safety guidelines for in-person volunteering.

Because 2020 is unlike any year, we put together a list of 10 ways companies are rethinking and reframing giving and volunteering programs for maximum impact. Read our full guide on how CSR can lead for impact in times of crisis.

1. Shift to virtual volunteering

Virtual volunteering goes a long way toward satisfying the needs of your employees and communities while keeping everyone safe. Whichever nonprofit organizations or causes you pick, make sure you encourage your employees to engage in ways that help them build their skills and align with your company’s goals or cause areas.

2. Expand the definition of volunteering

Many companies have expanded their definition of volunteering. For example, Salesforce now allows the following as volunteering activities for employees throughout the duration of the pandemic: shopping for groceries for elderly neighbors not wanting to expose themselves to the virus, teaching a lesson to a child’s class virtually, or providing necessary medical support to family members.

3. Provide clear safety guidelines for in-person volunteering

No matter how useful virtual volunteering and pro bono work can be, some organizations require in-person support at places such as food banks. This is why employees need clear safety guidelines when volunteering in person. We suggest CSR leaders work with their security and safety departments and office managers to issue COVID-19-specific safety guidance.

4. Match employee donations

Matching employee donations increases how much money employees give and shows the commitment of your company. Eighty-four percent of employees say they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered, and one in three donors indicate they’d give a larger gift if matching is applied to their donation, according to The Big-Give research initiative.

Corporate social responsibility team member partnering on a tablet with Human Resource team to keep employees safe.

5. Build campaigns and help channel employee donations

Corporate-led campaigns are even more important during times of crisis. Employees need guidance to know what organizations are the most effective. Whether it’s racial justice, food banks, mentorship, or care for the elderly, CSR professionals can create a list of five to ten organizations per cause and explain why they’re good choices for donations and volunteering.

6. Activate employee relief funds and programs

Many employees might need financial help during or following a crisis. Whether it’s flexible time off to care for their children, mental health resources, or simply funds to weather a spouse’s layoff, your company has a chance to step up and offer support. Starbucks, for example, committed $10 million in COVID-19 relief for its employees.

7. Double down on grants and measure impact

Targeted grants can do a lot to alleviate financial pain, particularly during times of crisis. Being able to measure the impact grants have on the community is critical for recovery and regrowth. Be aware that traditional key performance indicators such as dollar amount might not be enough. Shifting from outputs to outcomes is more important than ever.

8. Focus on the communities your business depends on the most

This is also a year in which grantmaking can be redirected to impact communities your employees, customers, suppliers, and partners live and operate in, therefore ensuring those who have made your business successful can continue to thrive.

9. Repurpose operations and answer pressing needs

While not all companies can repurpose their business operations to temporarily produce personal protective equipment and ventilators, a great deal of organizations have leveraged their unique business skills to address other immediate needs presented by the pandemic.

10. Partner with nonprofits

Nonprofits are very much in touch with the needs of the community. This is why corporations can gain important insight and refine their CSR programs to be more effective by partnering closely with nonprofits, particularly in times of crisis.

For more tips on how to support your employees and communities, download The Corporate Social Responsibility Guide for Impact in Times of Crisis.

About the Author

Cécile Poyet, Director of Product Marketing for Philanthropy Cloud

Cécile Poyet is dedicated to product marketing for Philanthropy Cloud. Prior to joining, she built and led the co-marketing machine for top ISV partners and resellers at She has 13 years of experience marketing innovative technology for large and small IT companies, including IBM and Hortonworks.