The term corporate social responsibility (CSR) is generally taken as a help done by the industries and corporate out of their profits. If we go back to the age of our forefathers, it was the elites, who use to generously donate due to their philanthropic attitude or due to fear of being ostracise. Generous people were more or less naïve then and this desultory made them grant money to those who may or may not require the same. We had moved a long way since then and these days we have CSR experts and institutions, which come up with white papers on the ways to ameliorate finances so that the money can be used for the larger help of the society.

The word philanthropy has its origin from Greece and it has its source from the word:  philanthropia which was used during the year 1600 – 1610 and meant love for mankind. The Greeks in those days use to donate money as one of the educational ideals and also to please Gods. This concept they first embodied in the benevolent God Prometheus, who dared to share divine fire with mortals and suffered Zeus’s wrath.  It was not just the Greeks but also the Romans, who took special interest in Philanthropy. As years passed philanthropy began to mean generosity. In recent years, philanthropy took new form, as helping the less benefitted in the society. Today it’s an idea to effectively fund the have-nots, so as to cope up with their present situations and is a responsibility for organizations. Hence it is now a serious discussion topic in board rooms and finding ways to spend percentage of their profits for the welfare of the society.

Previously corporate used to donate generously towards education sector, making it affordable for all. Now, researches are being done to find ways to make CSR serve causes in the social sector viz. building schools, roads, empowering women, helping institutions for the differently-able people etc. Industries are now investing with a premonition that through development, society will change for better.

Some Industries are however looking into a broader aspect in terms of their CSR. It’s not just about the Social Value Model, where companies are investing only about specific issues for non-economic reasons, but also extending it to business models where Industries are expecting better brand image and higher economics. Board rooms are also discussing on a third model, where the social investment can serve the cause, as well as bring business in a different ways. That model tends to work better as it helps the members of the public to learn from corporate, help their own income as well as help the industry make profits. That keeps all stakeholders in the same boat and it sails quite smoothly.

The question that crop up is what industries should do to make a good CSR plan with effective policies towards its implementation? The plan could be made based on an Industry’s core strength i.e. its product line. Based on the product line, effective planning can be made so as to move forward. For example, if the industry is based on hand washes, kitchen gels, then it’s quite clear that the industry is more focused on sanitation and its benefits. That’s one way of preparing policies towards effective CSR, which will help the masses as well as will improve brand image.

Secondly, CSR not only serves human development, but also it helps to restore development in times of crisis. For example, an area which is struck by a natural disaster needs help during those golden hours. Through CSR industries render relief during those hours of need, helping the tormented and distressed people in their life’s utter crisis. These help the industry to exhibit its social side and also gain trust of a brand as an organization which stood with its consumers during their time of crisis.

Corporate which serve both these purposes are amongst the most respected brand. Interestingly, most of the CSR initiatives are now targeted at community relations. It’s about understanding the community better and their needs and plan CSR according to that. It’s also about helping with your expertise to those who do not have the same skill to move forward. The best part of this strategy is to help and dream together. That’s how a successful CSR policy could be prepared to help for a social cause as well as build a better brand image for effective economic returns.

It is seen that long lasting community development projects does improve the image of the corporation than merely doing charities. It’s a reflection that people need help about solving their problems than getting benefited by money. This sentiment helps in increasing brand image and contributes towards higher trust and superior place in the stock market.  It’s in times of crisis; this reputation becomes an asset which was built over time and pay huge dividends. Hope through CSR one day we can create a more developed world for us as well as for our future generation.

(My Personal View)

Writer:  Mainak Majumdar

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