Donations are good, creating social impact is better

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Without doubt: donations you made to others are always helpful. Somehow. Donations help non profit organisations to continue their work. Donations are very helpful in large crisis situations. Sometimes, donations help to save lifes. But donations are not the main factor when it comes to decide whether a company is socially responsible or not.

Do you offer donations because you want to be seen as a social responsible company?
Donations can be marketed: ‘Wow, company xyz has given a certain amount of money. ‘ You can read it in a press release or a journal. Every day. But it does not really last that long in others’ mind. Simply because it does not differentiate you that much from other donors.
Offering money is the easiest way. Sometimes, people will start saying even that as long as your politics not change, as long as you handle like you always do, the million you have donated is a way to hide other activities.
Donations do not really create trust. Giving money is not the main factor when it comes to define whether you are a social player or not. By publishing annual reports, large companies often declare large amounts of money they have given to third parties, universities, NGOs, other institutions… Nevertheless, they are not highly ranked when they are compared to competitors on creating social impact. So, what to do? Enlarging the amount to donate with the hope that next year you rank higher and people finally understand your willingness to share part of your profit with those in need?

Can more money really create more trust in what your company does?

Not at all. Besides the fact that many companies, especially small and middle sized firms can simply not give easily much more money away, today financial aid is not what makes you a real impactful company. A company that cares, cares about the human beings and how they live, is not defined by financial aid. But how it acts inside and outside the company.

Why donations are not showing your responsibility ?
A few reasons are:
– donations don’t lead to solutions, but they can manage a critical situation and bring it back to normality. Unfortunately, just a normality that can easily become critical again and lead to similar crisis. Think about the risky buildings and factories in India, or about the homeless people in a hard winter….
– giving money does not mean that you really care about society. Social responsibility requires real willingness to change and to sove a problem where it starts. It comprises how people and companies think and act, how economic growth takes environmental and human factors into account.

As a company today, your social responsibility should be more strategic – it is about real change!
The right question to ask is how you can create a middle- and long term impact on society. How to put the right seed to make change grow. You do not have to offer the final plant for free, but to offer the seed that makes the plant grow.

Change means you need to create trust and to find others that support you to make this seed grow:

    • Start small, think big. You can not solve everything today and probably just a very small part of the problem by your own. Change needs to involve others and just together a huge impact and difference can be made.
    • Start with you and your employees. Do you develop them? Do you let them grow? Do you give them the self-confidence to think across borders?
    • Be open for change. Why not thinking about partnerships with untraditional partners, if the social impact can be a better one? Because no one did it before? Or because you fear that the maximum of you profit will become less?
      Do not get me wrong. You need to do business and to create profit. And gaining money is not wrong. No profit means you fail. If you fail, you cannot change. There is no change, if there is no win for you. But it is not about getting more and more profit, it is not about a continuous growth of profit. Maybe also a few percentages of profit less or a different way on how you steer your company and where you focus on you can have a good business AND be a changemaker.
    • Encourage your employees to support real change to fulfill society needs. Talk about it, involve them, take their ideas, Change needs ambassodors. If employees see that you create impact, they will be proud of you and being able to work for such a company.
  • And last, but not least we all know that motivated employees are the highest guarantee that your business will be successful in the next years and conquest new markets, too.

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