In recent years Corporate Social Responsibility has become a mainstay for large companies. Full reports and benchmarking systems are now the norm. In addition to the corporate standard of foundations and grants, companies now adopt pet projects and host company-wide volunteer days. From robot-constructing contests to global environmental initiatives, these companies are going out of their way to give back to society.
Something that has struck me in years past is the intense competitive nature of even something as selfless as giving back to the community. As Americans, even in what should be one of the most genuine company efforts, we try to out-do ourselves, and our peers. If in year one we held a bake sale, then in year two we held a clam bake, and so on until we’re sending a group of kids to work with the world’s best scientists to implement the newest water system in Zimbabwe. In my teens I was lucky enough to attend work trips over the summer across America, working at halfway homes in Appalachia, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in the Midwest, and sorting through food in food banks in the Rockies. Not once did I spend a full week giving back to the people in my back yard. It makes me wonder if the roots of CSR are too often neglected for the merit of its fruit.
It is not my intention to say that CSR programs don’t do society good; I truly believe the do a lot of great things for a lot of deserving people and communities. My point being that not all CSR sponsored activities need to be extravagant. Sometimes goodwill can come in the form of a good day: sponsor a children’s group trip to the ballpark; pay for the next 10 people in line at the grocery store; host a day-camp free of charge so parents can save on childcare.
Although awards are given to the great projects sponsored (and needed) around the world, I want to say thank you, too, to those organizations who continue to sponsor the little things that make those in need smile because they were given the gift of a good day.