Keeping up with demands in CSR: charity vs sustainability

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a term referring to a model for sustainable business practices. It implies that companies should take active responsibility for the imprint they leave on society and nature.

In this spotlight series, I would like to share my thoughts and experience of CSR.

Part II is up next, hope you enjoy the read!

A story by Jasminejit


In Part I of this series, I wrote about my experience as a millennial who chose a for-profit company based on their CSR track record. The corporate world, wanting to respond to this thirst for purpose among millennials, will start trying to do more along the CSR lines. Here is what we, in the NGO field, can do to keep up with this upcoming trend.

Charity – a word I grew up with. Together with my family, we have been supporting and participating in charity events, as the right thing socially aware people choose to do. Charity is defined as “the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need” 1. Very often NGOs base their operations and tailor their programmes along these lines too.

In recent years however, I have become well acquainted with the word “Sustainability”, often used and abused so much that it is itself not sustainable. This got me wondering: why sustainability? And what is sustainability? Defined as “the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level, able to be upheld or defended” 2, in other words it is to have programmes that require minimal funding and are able to run on their own, with least amount of effort.

So what makes sustainability so important?

What makes sustainability so important could be attributed to a number of factors. I will here discuss the two most essential ones, in my opinion.

Firstly, there is the role of economy. As there are ups and downs in economy, financial expenditure tightens. We don’t see as much funding being given to NGOs as finances are channeled towards investments generating higher revenues. In business every investment should generate its revenue.

Secondly and more importantly, is the lifestyle of the millennials. As we boom into the digital age, time spent on our mobiles and social media is increasing manifold. Most millennials build a social identity based on their interactions with peers, causes they support and personal interests they follow.

Launching a campaign online is never hard or expensive. There are options and tools readily available right at the fingertips of a millennial. Having this control allows us to impact and empower both ourselves and the cause. Likes, shares, tweets, mentions form the new face of advocacy campaigns all at the click of a button.

But can we do more? Find out in the final part of this series, coming up next!