Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a much abused word.
Every organization you and I know claims to be a good corporate citizen ’cause they gave away some money for charity. It is often an attempt to to absolve themselves from any responsibility to really participate and yet be seen as a kindhearted organization. Donations allow a beautiful way to be associated on the very surface. More often than not, these donations are motivated by misguided directions from the PR team or the CEO’s desire to make some press.
“Can you invite the media, particularly the photographers, at the Tsunami hit village as we donate 5 boats to the fishermen who lost their livelihood.”
I still vividly remember a full-page national ad campaign, worth a few crores of Rupees, by a large automobile group, announcing a donation of 20 lac Rupees and 5 cars towards Army Relief Fund after Kargil – I thought it would have made more sense the other way round. More contribution, less noise.
Donations typically go in the way of ‘crisis of the moment’ as most it serves the purpose for visibility greedy corporates and also helps rid guilt/ need to do anything else.
Not for profit organizations too are constantly clamoring for funds – primary means for them to sustain their ground efforts. ‘Competition’ among them to outdo each-other is intense. Funds on the other hand are finite so, for example, what was meant for the girl child as a cause, now goes to Tsunami – not additional funds. The process is often random and driven by herd mentality, with little concern for:
Ironically, ever so often even these funds/ donations don’t reach the needy or even when they do, often they reach so late that the purpose is lost.
A surface approach to CSR is not the solution to whatever purposes it was directed towards. This approach is flawed – creates imbalances and potential dependencies rather than enablement.
What is needed instead, is a thought through approach. This can be done by adopting a longer term approach; focusing on areas where an intervention by the group can make an impact; need assessment; relevant partnerships and a focus on setting objectives and mile-stones. Great CSR, I have always believed, has nothing to do with money, but with taking ownership.
What do you think?
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