Four keys for an effective CSR Strategy

It’s been great to get out and about the past few weeks and chat to people in the industry about structured CSR in the dental arena, and I’ve had the privilege of working with some great friends this week. Although Corporate Social Responsibility is something that more and more people are aware of as an increasingly important aspect of your business, a common question is ‘What is an effective strategy and what should be in it?’

This week, I’ll answer the first part of the question, with the second part next week.

There are some fairly important things to bear in mind as you get started, and the evidence shows there are four keys – commit, fit, connect, and manage.

Commit – You need to commit wholeheartedly to CSR. It’s a ‘Go big or go home’ factor. Doing things half heartedly or without forethought can backfire, as both your team and your customers can spot inauthentic activities or a lack of true commitment. Having said that, you should choose the right amount of activity for your practice, and adjust during times of high acuity or other priorities.

Fit – Businesses that choose causes and community work that fits with their sector gain the most value from CSR. For most people reading, this will mean dental charities and local groups or causes. The key thing is that the choice of your causes should make sense to your stakeholders. If you have to explain it in too many steps then you risk confusing people and losing the impact.

Connect – You must connect your team and your other stakeholders to what you’re trying to do. For your team, this means involving them in the conversation as you shape up your CSR strategy so that they feel involved and are more likely to engage, and keeping communication high through the period of the plan. For other stakeholders, this means communicating clearly and consistently through all your available channels. Vehicles such as newsletters, social media, your website and printed material in the practice are all ways you should use to talk about the causes you support, what they do, and what you’re doing to help. You should also look to communicate externally through local press and community publications.

Manage – When it’s done well, CSR is like any other value creating asset in your business. And as such, you need to manage it effectively. Have a target of what you want your CSR activity to achieve in a given period of time, create a plan, manage it month by month. Review. Do more of the things that work well and less of the things that don’t.

One of the most common mistakes I have seen over the years is when practices aren’t intentional about their CSR strategy. Every practice is different and so you should make your plan yours – have fun, choose a variety of activities, use it as a touch point for the team and create a theme to help people to engage with your vision. It doesn’t have to just be about fundraising, it can be about taking part in a challenge, it can be about education, it can be about creating awareness of issues you know about within your community.

Having a good CSR strategy in place impacts all round your business – marketing, team attraction and retention, building patient trust and your reputation. To maximise the impact, remember Commit, Fit, Connect and Manage.

Next week – what needs to be in your plan…

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