In today’s socially conscious world, consumers put their money where their beliefs are — mainly in the pockets of brands they deem transparent and reputable. About 87% of people say they would buy from a company that endorses an issue they care about, and 53% of customers are willing to pay more for brands that take a stand on public health, economic, or political issues.

Given this sentiment, your corporate social responsibility efforts (and how people view them) can make or break your business. By developing a CSR program, you can show customers that you’re just as committed to purpose as to profit. There are myriad ways to demonstrate this; you can choose the approach that feels the most natural for your brand.

Crafting a Genuine CSR Program

What’s worse than not having a CSR program? Launching one that’s inauthentic. Modern customers can sniff out disingenuous messages from a mile away. The last thing you want is for your brand to be called out for virtue signaling. Brands that don’t support their words with action will get called out for it, so it’s critical to establish why you’re investing in a CSR initiative.

People want to buy from brands that weave CSR into the fabric of their company and mission. They don’t want to support companies that jump on movements just because they’re trendy. How can you craft and communicate a CSR program that resonates with consumers? Begin with these three steps.

1. Start with what matters to your people.

What’s the meaning behind your program? Why are you investing in a specific CSR initiative? Be sure to include employees and customers in the decision-making process so you can determine which causes your stakeholders care about. Then, create an internal team to lead your efforts.

Create an authentic CSR strategy that takes all of that feedback — as well as your brand’s mission, vision, and values — into account. Most importantly, commit to that strategy. Employees and consumers will pick up on the mission alignment and appreciate your approach.

2. Align your CSR program with your brand.

Invest in initiatives that match your brand’s values — and run with that. There are several different facets of CSR, and you choose which elements to include in your program. For instance, maybe your brand already uses recycled materials in its products. Sustainability might be a good focal point for your efforts.

A great example of brand alignment is Garrett Lord, co-founder and CEO of recruiting software Handshake. Lord quickly mobilized his company to build a virtual career fair during the pandemic. The idea came from evaluating what issues were closest to the company’s heart and which they were most equipped to help solve.

3. Hold yourself responsible.

Customer trust is hard to gain and easy to lose, especially when it comes to CSR. One surefire way to build trust is to bring customers along without you in your journey and commit to total transparency.

This will allow consumers to gain a greater comprehension of the scale of your CSR plans. They’ll likely value the real talk of what is actually happening behind the scenes. There’s something inherently powerful about a company holding itself responsible.

Corporate social responsibility is increasingly important to customers, especially as Generation Z gains more spending power. It’s known that Gen Zers prefer purchasing from companies that support their values. By ensuring your programs are people-led, consistent with your brand’s mission, and transparent, you will help build rapport with today’s customers.

To learn more about Gen Zers and what influences their behaviors and habits, download our “Meet Generation Z” whitepaper.