CSR activities in India

Why CSR activities in India deserve priority over reputation?

Quite often, companies undertaking CSR activities in India tend to go overboard in their bid to get featured on the lists of sustainable corporations. But this basic approach is flawed. CSR is more about giving shape to strategies that yield measurable outcomes and lasting impact than anything else. Giving precedence to strategy over reputation gives more room for future maneuvering.

While creating an all inclusive approach is not possible, latching on to the core competencies allows a business to create a positive and lasting impact. Interestingly, exactly this approach can possibly assist it in getting featured on the sustainability rankings.

Compiling list the right way

Recently, research has been done to ascertain the impact of CSR lists. It should be noted that results of some studies are critical of such lists. However, almost all the studies acknowledge the role of these lists in felicitating CSR performers, promoting the impact of their initiatives towards a cause and encouraging sustainability. A rank in such lists can also offset the damage in times of PR turmoil. Moreover, companies that are regularly recognized can become role models for the next CSR activities in India.

Nevertheless, the real benefits of CSR activities are far more than the effects of the PR boost that they bring in their wake. CSR activities in India assist corporations in forging natural rapport with the communities on the basis of real contributions. The company should undertake CSR to make positive impact in the community rather than vying for the publicity. The effects will inevitably permeate and kick start change without any need to convert the goodwill generated into PR.

How To Put Value Over Recognition

The following strategies can help a business worry less about getting featured on the next sustainability list and more about delivering greater value through its CSR activities in India.

1. Build on past efforts. Often philanthropic and social projects are abandoned before achieving success because of one or more setbacks in the initial phase. While sometimes there is an inherent flaw in the strategy, but at times there are also other unwarranted factors at play that lead to suboptimal performance. What is needed in such a situation is remedial action by either requesting outside help to determine the flaws or by figuring out methods to overcome the difficulties posed by random factors. Taking a new initiative takes time, so it is always a nice idea to try and make the past efforts a success.

2. Provide training and support. Initiatives must go beyond donations and one-time aid. More than goods, communities require training and education which offer long term solution to their problems. Communities should be enabled to resolve the issues afflicting them without being dependent on others. For instance, instead of providing limited access to education, CSR ideas that would allow the locals to become educators themselves should be evaluated and implemented. This approach will extend the reach of the project while leaving behind a much bigger impact.

3. Focus on your environment. While most of us rue about the challenges posed by the climate change, not many care about the local environmental causes. This has got a lot to do with the sole focus on making it to the lists instead of making changes. A business or corporation must address local needs as well as global ones to impact communities both in vicinity and far off regions.
Giving employees an opportunity to volunteer is a nice option to begin with, but then it’s not a lasting solution. In order to expand the local footprint, corporations must align their CSR activities in India with the most pressing and relevant issues to their industry and location.

It can be concluded that while making it to the lists is nice; however creating a positive impact is much more important. By emphasizing on maximizing the effectiveness of their CSR initiatives, businesses can begin by making progress towards philanthropic goals. As they achieve success while treading this path, rankings on lists will follow automatically.

  • Apam Woleng

    For measurable outcomes and sustainable interventions, one needs to go beyond the realm of the academically oriented ”good practices” in the CSR domain. The need and ‘best package” of interventions for A need not yield the expected outcomes for B. It should be rooted to ground. The development sector of the current times seems to be following the path that someone somewhere has already traveled. Why not go through the road less traveled? For a sustainable development and change, there is no need to refer to African model or any other models of third world countries. For too long our development agenda, goal and outcomes has been donor driven especially international, multilateral donor agencies and we merely implement their ideas on ground and depriving the locals their share of participation. They were only seen as a ‘beneficiaries’ and not as partners in development. Most of these multi or bilateral donors do not design interventions foreseeing beyond the project period. Now, with CSR initiatives in India, slowly real community change is being ushered be it quality education, improving health care or health facilities. The localized model of change is made possible due to CSR initiatives. Surely, there is a need for long term CSR interventions as one cannot expect visible change in a short span of time. The approach should not be to bring explosive results in short tenure and to earn awards. Real impact and community change takes time…

    Another area to explore for the corporations is to move beyond their zone and venture out to unexplored regions like North East India. Surely, the taste and flavor of investment would be a rewarding experience if not awarding. Japan and China are already doing good social business in north east. Why not have the next CSR conference/conclave be held in North east?…I’m sure with the passing of time, more corporate groups would join hands and address these challenges….

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