Community Investment – It Matters!

July 26, 2013

Communica advisors were recently asked to provide insight and counsel into creating a localized community investment plan for one of our clients. As we began the task of taking stock of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in B.C., we began to reflect upon what community investment dollars really mean for our clients, and the communities they operate in.

Being a good corporate citizen is essential to good community relations and directly impacts community support of your business. However, some consider that under the magical cloak of CSR investments made to charitable causes by big corporations are just another ploy to buy support. The infiltration of big business in a small community being covered up by images of the company saving puppies, kittens and other small animals does hold true in some cases… but community investment goes far beyond corporate image.

There are many reasons why community investment matters – here are several big ones.

• The local economy. Supporting local businesses is a mainstay of sustainable community development and support to local groups and initiatives benefits the local economy by making immediate impacts.

• Direct community investment to local grassroots organizations and community initiatives does not have to go through intermediaries or middlemen; their impact is felt right away in the community. Residents have an immediate sense of on-the-ground benefits and the company gains important recognition in the short-term.

A little goes a long way. Not every investment has to be huge to make a difference. Small donations to sports clubs, environmental societies, anti-poverty associations and many more can be used right away to continue current programs. Even a donation into a larger initiative such as buying a bone-density scanner for a hospital allows an organization to meet their goal that much faster.

• The community that you operate in means a lot to you! Maybe the majority of your employees live there, maybe the community is where you obtain resources, or maybe it houses the majority of your client base. Either way, the community is essential to your business. If you benefit from operations within a community, the community should benefit as well. Be a responsible citizen and give back. This is a key point in CSR practices.

• Community investment involves researching and understanding the needs of the community, in order to determine where the most impact that coincides with a company’s investment policy can be made – it is not a superficial, random spinning-of-the-wheel process. Bottom line is that your company learns more about the community, while the community learns more about you and your corporate values.

• If a company’s main business interaction with a community is selling goods and services, interacting by giving back to the community will give people a reason to come back to you. If a company is seeking to develop a major project in or around the community, interacting with the community at the local level will help gain social licence and trust within the region.

• The positive outcome is not just to the community, the good karma reaches the donor. Even if your name is not on the results or listed as a sponsor, people ask who contributed and the word travels.

– Amanda Jarl, Junior Advisor, Communica Vancouver