How to Become a More Socially Responsible Business

As a business owner, thinking about how to give back to your community often takes a back seat to business-critical items on your to-do list. However, putting more focus on social responsibility not only helps others, but can also boost your bottom line.

No matter the size of your business, it’s possible to incorporate giving back into your model while remaining profitable (and potentially watching profits grow). Could your business do more in your community by adding a formal program? If so, consider one of these popular models for social responsibility.

Donate a Portion of Your Profits

This is one of the most traditional ways businesses give back. With this model, you promise to donate a designated portion of your profits to a particular cause or organization. Committing to donate a portion of your profits will support a great cause with the added bonus of boosting consumption of your product or service. Be sure to choose a cause that aligns with the passions of your target market then create a strategic marketing plan to spread the word.

Transparent Reporting & Consumer Calls-to-Action

In this type of model, a business pledges to support a cause then shares their actions and results publicly. They also call their customers to take action in support of the cause. The types of action taken in this method of giving back can vary from participating in community or non-profit events to donating money to a cause.

The trick with this model is communicating effectively – customers must be aware of exactly how the business is supporting a cause and the results that action brings. The most typical way to communicate this is to market your business as socially responsible. With expectations that the business will follow through on this claim, it becomes accountable for meeting those expectations. Then through effective communication of progress, consumers begin to associate your brand with social responsibility and you can ask them to take action for the cause as well.

Buy One Give One

With this model, you commit to donate one exact-match item for every purchase of that item to a specific cause or organization. This model is typically used by businesses that sell B2C products, but it’s also possible to use this model if you sell services – for every purchase of a service, you donate the same or a similar service to someone in need.

One top-of-mind example of a business that successfully uses the buy one give one model is Tom’s. Tom’s donates one pair of shoes, glasses, or other products to someone in need for every equivalent item sold. The company has built incredible brand recognition and loyalty through the marketing of this model.

Employee Incentives

With this model, you offer your employees incentives for participating and collaborating in an effort to follow through on your business’ mission for social responsibility. You identify a mission, such as waste reduction, and then encourage employees to drive the successful completion of that mission. To carry out this model, you must set very specific goals for the initiatives as well as specific ways to measure the goals. And when the goals are met, employees get their incentive. These incentives can be in the form of a bonus or you can get more creative, offering things like a night out or tickets to a sports game for those who helped reduce the most waste.

PTO for Employee Volunteering

This model is perhaps the easiest to implement. All you need to do is give employees a certain number of extra PTO days they can use to volunteer and then set guidelines about the usage of those hours. With this model, you can choose to promote social responsibility in its broadest sense by allowing employees to volunteer for causes they care about. Or you can support one cause more uniformly by choosing an organization or general cause for the business to support then provide opportunities for your employees to get involved.

Bottom Line

Socially responsible business models are not only good for the communities and causes they support, they’re good for business. If you’re not sure which model would work best for your business, do some research on companies similar to yours – which models do they use? Have they seen success?

Once you’ve decided on a model, begin creating a plan for implementation. If you don’t have enough time to do it yourself, form a committee of employees who are passionate about giving back so they can take charge of the planning, execution, and promotion of the initiative.