9 Tips for Setting up a CSR Programme for your Business

9 tips CSR programme

Gina Miltiadou is the Managing Director of Zahra Media Group and along with John Mullins, has successfully instituted the philanthropic causes we support here. From giving back to African schoolchildren to helping out the homeless of Bray, she is a knowledgeable resource on how your company can give back.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is something that companies of any size can be doing. No matter how small or big your workforce, giving back to make the world a better place is a bigger mission than reducing spend or increasing profits. If you’re looking to get started with a CSR programme, read on for tips on how to do it…

1. Start as you mean to go on

Make giving a portion of your profits (no matter how small) part of your mission from the start and write it into your ‘constitution’. It’s easy to say “we’ll give when we can afford it”, but the truth of the matter is that there will always be something that seems more important. By making CSR ‘just something that we do’ it becomes an integral part of your company culture – which benefits everyone.


2. Choose the projects that you support carefully

It’s best to choose projects or causes that resonate with you and/or your company values. Administering projects properly does take time and it can sometimes be frustrating because things don’t always go to plan or may take longer than anticipated. So, it’s important that you have a passion for what you are trying to achieve, else it will constantly end up being pushed to the bottom of your already long, to-do list.


3. Work with a not-for-profit partner on the ground

It’s wise to choose a well-established and trusted not-for-profit partner who is in country or in situ, to help you administer the project. Giving money directly to individuals in need may feel like you’re solving a problem (and you are), but this is not sustainable in the long-run. It’s much better to find a partner that you trust, to help you set up a well-thought out programme that will have lasting benefits.

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4. Think long-term

When developing your CSR programme, think about any ancillary costs that may make the project unsustainable in the future. For instance, there is no point buying laptops for a school in a third-world village, when they don’t have access to affordable electricity to charge them. Instead think about providing solar-powered technology or partnering with another company who will cover the costs of the electricity. Always consider the context of where you are working and try to anticipate things we may take for granted in a first world country.


5. Insist on reporting

No matter how small the project you’re running, always insist on reporting. Even if it’s a one-pager that simply outlines what has been achieved and how funds have been spent, the discipline of regular reporting keeps everyone focussed and honest. It also teaches valuable business skills to project partners on the ground.


6. Go see for yourself

If possible, go see the project for yourself, but don’t allocate your travel costs against the project…you’ll be losing money before you even start! Meet everyone involved and make sure you understand and can see what is trying to be achieved. This will give you a better understanding of what is required and what actions will make a real and lasting difference.


7. Act local and global

When devising your CSR programme, think about supporting a local community project as well as one abroad if possible. The former gives back to your own community which is important and the latter allows you to make a big impact, because Euros go a long way in third and developing world countries.


8. Treat it as part of your business

Treat your CSR project as you would any other part of your business. Set clear KPIs and report against them on a regular basis. For example, KPIs could be ‘number of children sent to school’/ ‘number of food hampers delivered’, etc. This keeps it on the agenda and will embed it into your culture.


9. Get staff involved

Most people like to feel that they’re making a difference in the world. Getting your staff involved in some way (e.g. through fundraising or by donating their time and expertise), will make them feel good about themselves and the company they work for.


Zahra Media Group donates 10% of its profits to Zahra Helps, an Irish registered charity that does work in Vietnam, South Africa and Zambia. Zahra Helps has been running since 2003, when Zahra Media Group was first founded. The company covers 100% of all the charity’s administration costs, which means that all monies received make it to the end user.