Small Business Social Responsibility: Benefits, Ideas and Examples

Published on
July 14, 2020
Written by
Zachary Pestana
Writers@Aspire
Reviewed by
Episode #
Small Business Social Responsibility: Benefits, Ideas and Examples
Increasing number of businesses are practicing CSR initiatives. If you wish to start your small business social responsibility, read this article.
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The world is becoming a much more conscientious place. Consumers are acutely aware of the impact businesses have on the environment, society and governance of an economy. They are also likely to switch brands if they feel a business does not align with their values. For instance, a Deloitte study has found that 23% of consumers say they will switch to buying products from an organization that shares their values on environmental issues. 

While there are numerous examples of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities that large corporations are undertaking, there are also benefits of social responsibility in small business enterprises. 

As a small business, you may not have a large budget to allocate to CSR. However, social responsibility does not always have to entail donating millions of dollars to a non-profit organization or planting 1000 trees. There are simpler ways to reap the benefits of social responsibility in the small business enterprise. It can be as simple as setting up more recycling bins, minimizing the amount of waste or switching to energy-saving light bulbs. In this article, we’ll explore what CSR is, how social responsibility is related to small business and what you can do to incorporate CSR activities into your business operations. 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility? 

Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR is a business practice that looks beyond profit-making to improve its environmental, social and governance impact. It involves treating its own activities holistically in light of the impact it is having on the society it operates in. 

CSR may look different for different organizations: some may have the resources to spend millions on environmental drives, while others may simply change their packaging to more eco-friendly material. No step is too small. 

As a small business that is unable to make a drastic commitment to CSR, there are simple steps you can take to reap the benefits of social responsibility in the small business enterprise. We will cover some ideas later on in the article. 

How Social Responsibility is Related to Small Business

In today’s world, the size of a company does not matter. You may have local or international clients, but the entire world is concerned about issues related to climate change, marginal groups, politics and other sensitive issues. 

As a small business, the more you adapt to ethical and eco-friendly practices, the more clients you can attract. Customers tend to gravitate towards businesses and brands that reflect their own values. If you do something as simple as switching to paper bags, more customers may want to shop from you. If you employ an ethnically diverse workforce, you may be able to project that everyone is welcome in your business, thereby attracting more clients. To understand how CSR can help your small business flourish, read the next section.

Benefits Of Social Responsibility In The Small Business Enterprise

BENEFITS of Small Business Social Responsibility

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Better Brand Reputation

A good brand image is always a great way to attract and retain customers. Besides delivering top-quality products and services, companies that partake in CSR activities usually gain better media coverage. That is already one way to advertise your business. Getting good press by contributing to a good cause is one of the best ways to put your business in the limelight. 

Increased Sales and Profit

CSR can be part of a business’s unique selling point. Customers who are more socially conscious are likely to buy from a business with social initiatives over competitors without any. Additionally, they would not mind paying slightly more because they care about society. Many CSR activities also have a direct impact on a company’s bottom line, meaning you can increase your business’s sales and profit. For instance, switching to smaller packaging is not just good for the environment but also great for your packaging costs. 

Happier Employees

It is psychologically proven that when a business focuses on more than just making a profit, employees are happier with their job and work harder, knowing their contributions have a positive impact. For instance, if you are an equal opportunity provider, you may attract more women and ethnically-diverse people who will remain loyal to you. 

Easier Access to Finance 

Another solid reason to invest in CSR activities is to get better access to finance. Companies that are socially and environmentally responsible have a better brand image and are considered more reliable. This can increase your chances of accessing finance from banks or other investors. 

Small Business Social Responsibility Ideas

Ideas of Small Business Social Responsibility

1. Environmental Activities

One of the easiest ways to get CSR going for your business is to focus on the environment. Simple changes such as zero waste, recycling of packaging, pollution reduction, and complying with environmental regulations can go a long way in making a positive impact. 

environmental activities for Small Business Social Responsibility

2. Philanthropic and Volunteering Activities

Socially responsible activities such as building partnerships with non-profit organizations or investing in education can help build a good brand image. You could also consider organising volunteering activities for your employees at the local old age home or food facility to encourage them to contribute to society.

Philanthropic and volunteering activities for Small Business Social Responsibility

3. Internal Work Ethics

CSR doesn’t always have to be about glamourous big steps. You can start within your company by improving working policies and conditions such as a work-life balance of employees, job security and providing equal opportunities to all.

Internal working ethics for small business social responsibility

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4. Honest Marketing

Another cost-effective way to involve social responsibility as a small business is to avoid ambiguous marketing or product labels. Instead, focus on giving your customers a true picture of your business activities. They will appreciate you more for that. 

Honest marketing for small business social responsibility

5. Ethical Sourcing

A good way to support ethical practices is to source ethically for your small business. Know where your product materials come from, how they are made and what the working conditions of their employees are. If you suspect that a supplier is being unethical, choose to disassociate with them and find a more ethical supplier instead. 

Ethical sourcing for small business social responsibility

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Corporate Social Responsibility Examples 

If you want some ideas or corporate social responsibility examples of companies that you can take inspiration from, here you go: 

Carousell

Singaporean company Carousell took it upon itself to make its marketplace more accessible for elderly persons. It introduced online shopping to seniors by undertaking the educational activity. It also undertook follow-up lessons for seniors once they got the hang of the basics of the app. 

Canon Singapore 

Imaging company Canon has numerous innovative CSR solutions in Singapore. One among them is the postcards it sponsored for mental health wellbeing. Collaborating with ReMind Singapore, Canon printed 6000 postcards and distributed them to local high schools. Students were then encouraged to write messages to their peers. This came in light of the adverse impact of the pandemic on the mental health of the youth. 

OliveAnkara

OliveAnkara is a slow fashion brand in Singapore that produces completely eco-friendly clothes. The apparel that the company produces is meant for long-term use, with great quality that lasts longer. While this isn’t a CSR initiative, it’s a business model that focuses on the environment. 

Agencies that Can Help With CSR For Your Small Business 

You can partner with a wide range of companies and organizations in Singapore to meet your CSR requirements. Here are some examples of the kind of organizations you can reach out to: 

Non-Profit Organizations

Organizations that function not for profit but to fulfil a certain cause are non-profit organizations. You can choose to donate to or partner with a non-profit to support a cause. Some examples of such organizations are Habitat for Humanity Singapore, Blessing in a Bag and Waterways Watch Society. 

Environmental Organizations 

If you are interested in nurturing the environment, you could partner with an environmental organization to do good in the world. These could range from eco-conservation centers to animal shelters. Some examples include Zero Waste SG, Centre for a Responsible Future and Action for Singapore Dogs. 

Local Hospitals, Homes and Schools 

If you don’t want to associate with an organization, you could choose to donate to or volunteer at a hospital, old age home, orphanage or school in your local community. 

Developmental and CSR Agencies 

You could also reach out to a CSR agency that can help you develop a holistic CSR plan. There are also several employee development programs that can help you meet your CSR goals. Below, we have listed some agencies you can contact in Singapore for CSR activities: 

Big Heroes 

Big Heroes is a social and team-building enterprise that helps companies engage their employees in meaningful CSR activities. Not only do they have activities that give back to society, they also contribute a portion of their profit to help the less privileged. With every activity you do with them, you are giving back to society.  

Team Building Asia 

Team Building Asia creates team exercises for your employees both virtually and in person. This organization has a wide range of activities that make a meaningful impact. You can choose something as simple as doing a mental health awareness seminar to improve the well-being of your employees. 

Catalyst 

Catalyst gives you the opportunity to customise your team-building activities to give back to society. You can design your activities to partner with your favourite charity, cause, social or environmental project and/or NGO. This will enable you to actively engage in actions that further social good and have a positive impact on the environment.

MakingTeams 

MakingTeams is another South Asian team-building enterprise that has activities centred around CSR. You can choose from a host of options, such as helping build a farm, animal rehabilitation, recycling and renovation projects. 

Final Word

Having CSR implemented in the business is one thing, but making the program known to the public is another thing. Don’t be afraid to get the benevolent things the business has achieved known to the public. Make use of the socially responsible feature, a competitive advantage in the market. Mention it on the company’s website, social media, advertisements, and PR. It is important to show facts and figures about what you have achieved. It does not necessarily have to be a major transformation, customers will be happy to see that the business is taking small steps to create a real impact.

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Graphical user interfaceDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a guide for your CSR programme.Tips: One CSR activity can be a collection of a few UN goals combined. Source: un.org

CSR activities for a business are more than just creating a good brand image, boosting revenue or other marketing material. It meant a lot to the society and environment the business is impacting. Investing in CSR activities creates sustainable development for the business and sustainable living for the community.

At Aspire, we envision a world where business owners have fast and simple access to the funding they need to grow. That’s why we’re on a mission to re-invent banking for SMEs across Southeast Asia. Our current product provides SME and startup owners in Singapore with financial flexibility through a line of credit of up to S$150k, which can also be used to make business payments to enjoy 60 days of free credit terms. With no monthly fees or obligations to withdraw, you only pay interest on the amount you end up using. Opening an account is free and can be done online here.

Unlock a credit line up to $150k with Aspire Today

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zachary Pestana is a seasoned writer in market trends and business thought leadership. With a writing history at Incorp Global, MOQdigital, and AIESEC Australia, Zachary leverages his broad range of experiences to stimulate industry conversations and engage audiences.
Zachary Pestana
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