CSR 'starting to lose its add-on tag'

Companies have started to implement their corporate responsibility strategies throughout their operations, rather than seeing them as a separate add-on or sales promotion, according to Business in the Community.

“Businesses are realising that, because of the rising tide of consumer expectation and general stakeholder expectations, it’s very important to make internal strategies more public and market them,” said Sue Adkins, the charity’s director, at the 27th International Fundraising Congress in Amsterdam. “Businesses have to connect what they say inside with what they do outside.”

Cause-related marketing has evolved to encompass all marketing disciplines, including PR, loyalty marketing, presence marketing, and sponsorship, Adkins said, replacing the view that cause-related marketing is just sales promotion.

She cited a Sainsbury’s media campaign that used the slogan “Same price different values” and promoted issues such as being energy-efficient, and Marks & Spencer’s Look Behind the Label marketing campaign, which highlighted a number of causes, including genetically modified food, animal welfare, reducing hydrogenated fats or climate change.

“What’s new generally is that there is a much more thorough approach to CSR,” she said. “Cause-related marketing is the sharp end of CSR. Companies bring it to life in the market place to consumers through their brand and their marketing. Businesses have to connect what they say inside with what they do on the outside.”

Adkins added, however, that online brands wanting to partner with charities needed to make sure that money reached the charity in an appropriate amount of time.

“If they are doing online fundraising and funds are raised that don’t go to the charity for six months, that is outrageous,” said Adkins. “Getting money from web fundraising to the charity has been an issue in the US, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was an issue here as well.”

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