Negativity seemingly always bombards us in the news and in our social media timelines these days. If you want to combat this, one surefire method is to adopt a social-good strategy for your business.

For many years now, companies both large and small have sought to improve the world through corporate social responsibility by implementing practices such as volunteerism, ethical sourcing, hiring practices, and more.

Perhaps you're concerned that donating time or money to causes might negatively impact profitability. Research shows that's not likely to happen, however. In 2015, Chinese researchers analyzed 42 studies and found there's a strong correlation between higher social responsibility efforts and greater financial performance.

A 2017 survey by Cone Communications found 87 percent of consumers surveyed would purchase a product from a brand that advocated for an issue they felt strongly about.

Consumers frequently base purchase decisions on a company's social good practices, which definitely helps the bottom line. Knowing this, here are five tactics to help your company be more socially responsible in 2019:

Identify a social problem that you're passionate about, one where you can make an impact.

The passion people feel for certain issues helps motivate them to find solutions. Whether it's homelessness, environmental concerns, or obstacles women face in the tech industry, let your core causes lead the way. In San Francisco, many companies have stood out for focusing on local issues. Charity Cab for example gives a part of what it earns to local nonprofits.

Because this effort is close to home, Charity Cab customers can see the results of the company's efforts firsthand. Customers may even feel it personally. All of this increases brand loyalty and respect for the company.  

Research current conditions to find out where you can make the most impact.

If your issue involves government oversight, know what regulations and laws apply before you decide on a specific course of action. Determine what's not working and where you think help is most needed. Often, there are regulations in place that have prohibited real change, so it might be necessary to work first on changing the legal or regulatory framework.

For example, numerous nonprofits concentrate on legal issues that worsen certain societal problems around the world. Girls Not Brides works to change laws in different countries to stop children from becoming brides. Global Witness focuses on the regulatory environment to stop things like money laundering, corruption and conflict diamonds.

Knowing this information in advance gives you a realistic picture of the challenges involved. You'll then be better prepared to decide where to focus your effort and resources.

Reach out to current leaders around the issue to discuss collaboration.

Rather than barging in uninvited or attempting to reinvent the wheel, you'll see better results by joining work that's already in progress. While you're researching the current state of your issue, as mentioned above, make note of the names of individuals already involved in your selected cause.

Explore opportunities offered through governmental partnerships and programs. For example, the Open Government Directive, started by President Obama in 2018, helps companies get involved with government agencies to address prevalent social ills. For example, online portal Open Georgia is accessing Directive resources for its work on local government transparency.

An agency or local board may already be working with technology vendors or startups on implementing specific solutions. Partnering with that startup or vendor may be more effective than starting from scratch if you want attention from local governmental bodies.

Consider your own resources and skill set in determining what actions to take to solve the problem.

The most effective action for your chosen issue may require a donation of time or money. It may also present an opportunity to build something entirely new.

In 2014, the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation began the Startup in Residence program. It partners with startups to implement innovative ideas for the city's most pressing social issues. Binti is an example. It has worked with the city to transform foster parent processes.

Create a strategy to work proactively on the social problem.

You'd never roll out a new product or service without a solid strategy. In the same way, you need a plan when addressing social issues. WebFX creates a list each year of where it wants to contribute time and money. These are causes that reflect company values and make an impact on the communities it serves.

The strategy should include how to get your audience or team involved in advancing their own social-good goals. It should also include a timeline, tactics, budget, and a list of metrics to gauge progress towards those goals. This written plan will help you integrate your regular business activities with your work on this issue, to transform your company into a more socially focused business.

Published on: Jan 23, 2019