Why CSR programs are in crisis — and how you can rescue them

5 essentials for making your social-responsibility efforts credible and effective.

5 essentials for making your social-responsibility efforts credible and effective

It might be easy to miss if you don’t work in the world of corporate-led cause marketing, but corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are in crisis.

The debate focuses on two big issues: brand value and authenticity. On the one hand, CSR programs are attacked by shareholder groups and business investors who argue that they are a needless distraction and remove money (and value) from the investors of a business. CSR programs are also attacked by industry watchdogs and groups who argue that businesses engage in CSR programs merely to create an artificial connection with consumers and claim allegiance to causes they don’t really care about.

On the other hand, those who work on these programs make a more idealistic argument—that doing something positive for a community or for the planet at large is not mutually exclusive with making money. Even if it were, they contend, the duty of organizations to do this should be seen as a necessary cost of doing business.

Although I believe in the benefits of CSR, it is in a state of crisis today.

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