Sunday, December 9, 2012

Have You Implemented CSR Projects in the Recession?

With 2012 coming to an end and the impact of the recession still being felt around the world how committed has your organisation been to Corporate Social Responsibility. Many organisations are now showing steady increases in profits and wealth, so why are so many charities and people around the world suffering.
Jamie Doward mentions in the Observer today that “the UK's flat-lining economy is having a devastating effect on charities, according to research that suggests that two out of five face closure, with many set to disappear as early as next year unless things improve.
A poll commissioned by the Charities Aid Foundation confirms that public spending cutbacks and falling donations are conspiring to devastating effect. The foundation warns that as many as one in six charities believe they may close in the coming year, while nearly half say they are being forced to dip into reserves. One in three says they fear being forced to cut services.” (The Observer, 9th December 2012)
This is supported by the Charities Commission which is forecasting a 33% reduction in funding by 2014.
What’s even more concerning is that most of the reports about charity closures and the lack of donations seem to put the ‘responsibility’ firmly at the door of the public, rather than corporation’s; where it’s the corporations that have signed up to be socially responsible – though often have very little to show for it, other than flowery words of commitment.
So why is this happening and how does this line-up with the recent upsurge in ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ and the impact this ‘recent’ business philosophy is supposed to have on core business values. Visit the websites of most organisations these days, regardless of where they are situated around the world and you’re more than likely to find that section that tells you how committed they are to corporate social responsibility and their local community. Few though are specific about what they do and often a quick glance at their annual reports show little sign of corporate social responsibility in practice.
The recession has hit first world countries that seem to be completely at sea in dealing with the amount of people suddenly finding themselves below the poverty line – seemingly trying to brush the extent of the suffering in their countries under the carpet. For example, in 2010 the US Census Bureau identified record levels of 46.2 million people living in poverty in the US of which 5.8 million were in California and this increased to 48.5 million in 2011 – where to give some perspective to the numbers, the total population of the UK is 63 million.
Some may argue that first world countries don’t really understand the concept of poverty when they still have access to running water, electricity, sanitation and health care; which are sadly lacking in their third world counterparts.   
Jamie Doward highlights how “along with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Caf has launched a campaign, Back Britain's Charities, that calls on the government, businesses and the public to get behind the nation's charitable organisations. It wants the government to modernise and promote gift aid and payroll giving so that donations go further. It is also calling on businesses to support charities either through donations or practical means.”
As John Low, Caf's chief executive says “charities of all sizes play an essential role in our society, providing social care and education as well as helping some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, we all need to act now to support Britain's charities so they can continue their vital work."
Of course charity isn’t just about poverty, but about supporting vulnerable people who need care and attention, from the old and frail; the disabled; orphaned and homeless children; and all forms of abuse and neglect; to name a few, where the state and private sector need to do a lot, lot more.
Finally this isn’t just Britain’s problem, but a global problem that needs serious attention from those that can make a real difference. Profitable organisations around the globe need to show more commitment to their Corporate Social Responsibility charters – taking their well written value statements off their web pages and bringing them to life in the real world and making a real contribution to the community that supports them.

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