CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility and refers to strategies put into place by companies to ensure their operations are ethical and beneficial to the world around them. Tree Aid partners with a variety of companies that make an environmental and social impact by supporting our work in the drylands of Africa.
There are many benefits for a company to have a CSR strategy, including:
Critics may argue that during tough economic periods and difficult markets, CSR is a privilege that cannot be afforded and one of the first areas which should be cut. This however, is a mistake, argues a paper published in the European Marketing Journal in 2020. “Doing good when times are bad: the impact of CSR on brands during recessions” . This paper draws upon a multitude of research, to offer key insights into how CSR should not only survive a recession, but actually become a more important and impactful part of your strategy. How could this be? Here are the top reasons:
1. CSR offers brand differentiation
During times of recession, customers find it harder to make purchasing decisions. As a result, there is value in increasing brand differentiation and placing your product or service ahead of competitors. Market research shows that during times of economic decline, consumers consciously change their spending habits, reducing the amount they buy, postponing purchasing and evaluating their purchases in greater detail.
2. CSR signals brand quality
Research also shows that CSR signals brand quality. During recessionary periods, when value is essential to buyers, using CSR as a signal of higher quality and better-perceived value likely becomes even more important.
“Firms use CSR to signal quality - these signals are more likely to be discovered and contemplated during recessions, when customers are actively looking for them” .
3. During economic difficulties, CSR is perceived as more heartfelt
During periods of stability or economic growth, customers presume that CSR activities are motivated, at least partly, by self-interest (to sell a product or service). In contrast, to maintain this responsibility despite periods of economic difficulty increases the perceived authenticity of a company’s CSR activities.
In other words, when customers see continued commitment to CSR, even when they know resources are scarcer, they receive a powerful message about your commitment to social values. Ultimately this leads to long-lasting, positive brand differentiation.
The world is facing unprecedented and interconnected threats - the triple crises of poverty, biodiversity loss and climate change. It will take everyone playing their part to tackle these huge issues, from governments, to NGOs, to members of the public and the private sector.
It is important to remember that your business does not exist in isolation. We have had plenty of stark reminders in recent times that issues that many of the biggest issues facing the world are truly global, and therefore require a a global solution.
At Tree Aid, a new five-year strategy was outlined in 2022, setting out a need for us to rally support from both the public and private spheres to address the massive challenges we are facing.
Importantly, there are many proven solutions to these problems – they now require support to be scaled up. If you, your team and your customers can be a part of this effort, you will have made a real impact on people’s lives - this is surely the strongest argument to be made for the importance of CSR.
CSR can be viewed from many perspectives and of course, every business is different. That is why our approach to corporate partnerships always starts with a conversation, so we can find what type of partnership will be most mutually beneficial.
At Tree Aid we are lucky enough to work with a variety of passionate and responsible corporate partners who, despite being from a wide range of industries, are united by their interest in our work and their willingness to support it.