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How CSR Works for NGOs?

Emilia - 12/10/2016 - 0 comments

One of my meaningful days as youth worker and trainer are those when I design new curricula, new projects that can guide the European not-for-profit entities. That relieving moment of validating and submitting my new masterpiece followed by the greatest moment of my globetrotter existence: packing for a new learning journey. This time in Konstancin-Jeziorna, Poland. The adventure was named “How CSR works?” and was amazingly organised by the Polish and Hungarian National Agencies between October 6-9, 2016.

The question marks were infinite before the project: How can I propose to companies to develop together with NGOs? How to train youth workers and non-governmental companies regarding CSR? Why an NGO should embrace a CSR strategy even from beginning? The “?” are limitless, so the advantages of adopting a social responsibility strategy and promoting the concept to as many other people as possible. We can always start small – with individual social responsibility and dream big – at corporate social responsibility.

This topic has been captioned under many names, including corporate citizenship, social responsibility, corporate science, corporate citizenship, responsible business. Name it as you want, but focus on starting from today to plan your core business according to healthy social responsible principles.

“Maybe, we should speak about responsible society rather than social responsibility. There is hardly ever a responsible society if citizens, associations, NGO, political parties, institutions and especially, companies are not responsible” (Angel Castiñeira y Josep M. Lozano. “Responsible companies”, La Vanguardia 24/11/05)

The training gathered more than 20 youth workers, presidents of NGOs, communication specialists, volunteers and freelancers passionate about this topic. 3 CSR captains guided us through all this intensive 3 days-training course: Stephan Kropf (Austria), Vanda Kovacs (Hungary), and Dagna Galerownia (Poland). They’ve challenged us on a journey about our social values, our role in this world and the impact of our organisation in our community.

Lessons learned during the training course:

Lesson no 1.

Non-formal education tools are still the most efficient in terms of learning processes and expanded horizons of participants;

Lesson no 2.

Social Responsibility should be in the DNA of NGOs, not just a department focused on cooperating with companies for fundraising purposes only;

Lesson no 3.

Social Responsibility for NGOs is an exercise of assumption of its responsibilities, the promise of the coherence between the values and the social proposal: cooperation for development, social, human aid and environment.

Lesson no 4.

In order to build the social responsibility culture of the organisation, seven areas of interest to reflect can be proposed: people within organisation, stakeholders, mission and values, transparency, environmental management, communication and social involvement.
Lesson no 5.

In NGOs, the social responsibility is the individual sum of the  individual responsibilities of the members who take part  in the organisation.

Lesson no 6.

One powerful reason to develop social responsibility politics in your NGO could be assigning some values to your trademark, motivating your employees so that they identify themselves with the NGOs, generating benefits or minimising risks.

Lesson no 7.

The UN Global Compact Dilemma board game offers an engaging, hands-on way for NGOs to educate their employees about social and environmental business risks. The game is based around scenarios which demonstrate how professionals are often faced with dilemmas involving CSR issues and the need to balance conflicting stakeholder views.
Lesson no 8.

Erasmus+ is a great for NGOs and companies because promote synergies, cooperation and cross-fertilisation between the different economic and educational sectors in order to develop new and innovative educational programs, approaches, methods and tools useful in youth work. CSR provides a frame to achieve the above mentioned goals and aims.

Sound difficult?

Briefly, according to Vanda, one of our captains, the steps are the following:
1 – Speak with your board;
2 – Analyse your organisation and use Common Good Balance Mix;
3 – Create your own CSR policy!;
4 – Adapt it!;
5 – Look around!;
6 – Go offline, enrich your network!;
7 – Make some research about CSR in your country;
8 – Check your chicken! (Needs and responsibilities of your organisation);
9 – Prepare to offer creative solutions to companies;
10 – Negotiate with them;
11 – Reshape your strategy;
12 – Design it together! Design it together! Design it together!;
13 – Sign it together;
14 – Implement it together;
15 – Monitor and report it;
16 – Make it visible!;
17 – Start again!

What’s your NGO story and how do you sketch your CSR strategy?