Interested in using your business to create social or environmental good?

In a corporate world constrained by limited resources and competing interests, you need to find an issue and a charity/social enterprise partner that makes sense for your business.

From there you can enjoy the business benefits and social impact it brings to you both. Here’s how:

  1. Find an issue or cause that reflects your organisations strategic priorities, brand values, and stakeholder
  2. Select a community partner that reflects those values. Negotiatehow to make meaningful investments in this
  3. Set up systems to track your contributions and impacts.

Let’s unpack this.

1. Define your cause area

Start by asking, “What do we stand for?”

Let’s say that your corporate purpose is to sell high quality ready-to-eat meals, your brand purpose is to celebrate life, and your social purpose is to promote healthy eating.

Maybe your answer to, “What do we stand for?” is something like, “We want to bring communities closer together by giving everyone access to delicious and nutritious meals.” In which case, your cause area could be something like, “food security” or “nutrition for the disadvantaged”.


Woolworths + OzHarvest


2. Find a partner

Find a community partner that has programs in place to bring these values to life.


It should be absolutely clear why you have selected this partner.
If you have a customer or employee or shareholder asking,
“Why that issue?” or “Why that partner?” then keep searching.


Most importantly, the choice must make sense to the people in your organisation who make decisions about the allocation of resources. Use their language, apply their processes, and align to their strategies.


Sportsgirl + Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders


Once you’ve selected a partner, look at their programs and discuss how your business can provide targeted financial and non-financial support.


It’s important to look at the different ways your employees
and stakeholders can get involved with this partner,
like fundraising, payroll giving, and volunteering.


Also look at your partner’s ability to leverage their scale and positioning to connect emotionally with your stakeholders, to expand their own supporter base, and improve your standing in the community.


Gillette + Movember


3. Track your impact

Whatever the targets you and your partner have agreed on, apply the same discipline to setting, tracking, and reporting them as you would apply to your own sales, profit, and employee turnover. Make sure these targets are measurable.   

Ensure you’ve got access to the data you need to track milestones so that you and your partner can celebrate, and then build on this success together.

Your business is a powerful vehicle for good in the community, but only if your corporate actions make sense for your business. The right cause and partner can accelerate benefits for you, for your partner, and for your community.


Jason Robertson is former Head of CSR and Sustainability
at David Jones
and now works with organisations to improve
their environmental, social,
and financial sustainability.

26 October, 2019