According to studies conducted in small and medium enterprises that carry out CSR activities, the best motivation in this respect are the benefits for the company.
Naturally, depending on the company’s size and employee/management structure, the intentions and motivation behind the activities for the benefit of other people or institutions in need of assistance are different. In very small, often family-run companies, the motivation is the goodness of the heart and identifying oneself with the goal supported by the entrepreneur. However, the bigger the enterprise (with a conscious owner and employing someone who is able to lead and manage the enterprise’s image), the higher the awareness of the impact of CSR activities on the company’s image and, consequently, of the opportunity to increase the actual income.
Even though activities in terms of corporate social responsibility are often caused by the wish to stand out among the local employers, show that one can afford to do so, demonstrating their income, the fact is that things done for a local sports club, school, or a children’s home are very much recognised by the local community. A more positive image of the company means more potential clients. And, as everyone knows, more potential clients leads directly to more income and client–company relations based on loyalty and mutual trust.
That’s all very well, but how does one start CSR activities that will be beneficial for both parties? Naturally, your CSR activities need to be in line with the company’s general strategy. At the very outset, the entrepreneur should set the direction and the framework of activities. In short, this means answering several fundamental questions: with whom, for whom, why, for how much and how? If you specify in detail who you want to help, how you want to do it, and what benefits you want to get as a result, your CSR activities will certainly bring benefits to both parties. Obviously, benefits in the form of strengthening the company’s positive image in the eyes of the existing clients, increasing the number of clients potentially interested in your offer, or building an image of a socially responsible company are possible primarily thanks to media activities the company needs to carry out regularly. In the case of SMEs, you need to focus on local and regional media in particular. Newspapers, radio announcements, or even short remarks in the local TV station about the social campaign supported by your company will reach consumers almost on a daily basis. As your campaign gets more attention, your presence in the media increases, as well – with no additional costs.
In Western Europe, CSR activities are very common, both in big business and the SME sector. In Poland, corporate social responsibility, as a tool of improving the company’s image and winning new clients, is not yet universally known. However, this does not mean that SMEs should not carry out such activities. A well-planned strategy will surely bring benefits to both parties: measurable financial or logistic assistance for people or institutions in need of support and, for the company (even though only in the long term), a strengthening of the positive image among the existing clients and winning new clients, which means more income and streamlining the costs related to promotion and advertising. However, in carrying out social activities, you should remember about your employees, their professional development, and their motivation. Well-trained, happy employees are invaluable social capital, which is also a part of social responsibility. It is often said that CSR is actually ‘clever PR’ done with without belief and true intentions. But, are such deliberations important in view of the obvious mutual benefits?
This article was written on the basis of the ‘Motivation to carry out CSR activities in the SME sector’ report.