The success of CSR Projects relies on many stakeholders working in tandem (P1)
While having minimal corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and mandates, key findings (1) state that Sri Lanka spends over Rs. 4 billion annually on CSR activities. This willingness to give has been highlighted in the aftermath of the recent tragedies that affected the island.
While in most instances CSR is used to firefight challenges faced by the broader community. The true role of CSR is to create value, generate jobs and improve the quality of life for the communities companies’ operate in. Further, as the economy continues to grow, the private sector in Sri Lanka is finding out the importance of CSR projects in building brand value.
Now more than ever, there is a need for the private sector to execute CSR projects intelligently. Here are three considerations that should certainly help.
Back to the Blackboard (P2)
On field assessment
According to key findings by CSR Lanka, many CSR projects do not pay enough attention to sustainability. Thus, even though several programs start out, the necessary field research is not completed and the goals aren’t realised.
Therefore, it is important to first communicate with the people you are planning to help. And identify the roots of their problems for which to design permanent solutions. In the coordination of disaster relief for instance, it is essential to communicate with organisations on the ground in a better position to understand the needs of the affected individuals. Currently the Ministry of Disaster Management has the mandate to coordinate relief efforts in times of emergency. For corporates who wish to assist in times of need it is important that they set up channels of communication with the relevant authorities prior, to enable better collaboration.
Picture from the Yakawewa project. Image courtesy Access Engineering (P3)
Corporation and collaboration
It is important to liaison with the right authorities and get project beneficiaries engaged in the maintenance of CSR projects directed towards them.
For example, in the Yakawewa project - the National Water and Drainage Board report was essential in identifying the most suitable location to drill for water. In addition to this, the completed system was entrusted to the village committee. Both these actions helped reduce the cost of the project, and ensure its longevity.
Companies also need to keep in mind the role they need to play in the maintenance of donated systems. It can do this by educating its beneficiaries on repair and maintenance practices, and by setting up a continual supply for any parts that may be needed.
In the case of disaster relief, collaboration with other organisations is essential for the efficient distribution of resources. Private Humanitarian organizations have mandates for different areas of the country so it is important that you coordinate with the right ones. The more established among them include; APAD (Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management), SLRC (Sri Lanka Red Cross) and World Vision Sri Lanka.
Corporates have the ability bring together passionate employees from a variety of skill sets and backgrounds. (P4)
Rallying the troops
By integrating employee development programs into a company’s CSR projects, companies can gather large volunteer forces. This would allow them to build deeper bonds with and amongst employees who feel strongly about the cause they are assisting.
A company can leverage on resources its employees provide, such as; expert insight, muscle strength, and purchasing power. It can use this to build goodwill towards its brand by uplifting the communities it operates in. But, it is also necessary that companies take certain directional changes about how they perceive the value of CSR and integrate it into part of its primary operations.