This was the big question addressed at the Social Investment and Partnerships forum at the Western Sydney Collective Wednesday 17th February. Our founder and CEO, Martyn Ryan, was one of many speakers at the Social Investment and Partnerships forum to talk about CSR and social investment as a tool for growing businesses. His focus was on subjects close to the heart of our business here at Benojo, such as retaining and attracting great employees, building resilient and prosperous communities and engaging socially aware investors.
Key themes at the Social Investment Forum
The importance of collaboration was a key theme throughout the event and for businesses, involves finding the right cause to collaborate with. This process should begin with each business evaluating their company culture, a phase referred to as the Ask Yourself stage in Benojo’s giving index. This stage is critical in allowing businesses to determine if they have the right kind of culture, time and resources to embark upon a social investment partnership.
Identifying a cause or charity whose values align with your company culture or brand offering will ensure your giving has maximum impact. This is an idea we explore in the stage of our giving index.
Key to this stage is the idea of creating shared value, explained by speaker Phil Preston as the space in which “community support, collaboration and profitability collide.” Finding the right type of cause to align with ensures businesses can address social issues that intersect with their business, a key element of creating shared value and creating sustainable partnerships.
What our founder had to say:
Martyn identified the issue of “defining” what you as a business has to trade i.e. “time, money, resources, knowledge, skills,” as a key part of social investment. This is termed as the Set Your Path phase of the Benojo giving index and requires businesses think about the type of giving they can afford.
For example, IMC, a global leader in propriety trading, chose to offer time donations, rounding up 60% of their workforce to become SuperHeroes for the day. With a total of 336 hours from volunteers, money raised went towards Bear Cottage, a children’s hospice. This example demonstrates the importance of choosing the right type of giving that remains in line with what the business can offer and the kind of social investment that the cause needs.
This stage directly feeds into the Launch & Lift phase of the giving index, a phase in which businesses choose how they want to be involved. This may involve assigning more importance to certain aspects of your businesses CSR strategy over others. Martyn identified this as a space in which to “define the need,” of both the cause and business, a space in which he prompts business to ask themselves “is this mission critical, and, is it strategic?” Asking these questions ensures businesses can avoid ‘giving waste’ by effectively channelling their resources and efforts.
Why transparency matters
Martyn distinguished the transparency and measurability of social investment initiatives as key to forming a successful and ongoing relationship between businesses and causes. In the Grow & Tell phase of Benojo’s Giving Index, Martyn believes that “using common tools” creates a shared language in which both business and cause can evaluate and grow the collaboration. Using these tools leads to innovation - another key theme of the forum- which in turn allows both business and cause to improve upon social investments and continue to grow a sustainable relationship.
Want to know more about implementing an effective CSR strategy for your business? Take the Benojo Social Impact Index for Business to learn more and receive a free report.