CSRinsights: CSR Trends What to Expect in 2012

Clients and industry acquaintances continuously question what others are doing, how they’re doing it, and why it works.  And, as the new year kicks off, it especially makes sense to get an industry pulse and figure out what can be expected in 2012.  To do so, we launched a mini-survey to a wide range of companies (all with whom we have some sort of standing acquaintance with) and gathered some general information that might be helpful as we continue doing good throughout the year.

To set the stage, let’s explain a bit about how this surveyed data was gathered.  We reached out to roughly 50 organizations, for which 30 responded to the six questions asked ranging from participation and volunteering goals, budgets levels, focus areas, and reasoning for programs.  We gathered responses from seven sectors:  basic materials, consumer goods, financial, healthcare, industrial goods, services, and technology.    Although we would have loved to have equal representation, 46% of the responses came from technology companies.  Fortunately, we had a much more even mix in responses from the size of the companies (number of employees) with a roughly even split between the six employee groups sizes we measured (see Fig 1).  

2012 Summary of Results 


Looking holistically at the results, three immediate data points popped out:

1.Nearly 80% will maintain or increase investment in their CSR programs.
2.Volunteering appears to be the overwhelming area of focus  for 2012.
3.There appears to be little standardization in measuring ‘engagement.’


The key (and fundamental) areas yielding relevant data include: budgeting, engagement and participation, as well as, goals and expectations.  The overall sentiment from our survey echoed Forbes’ results showing that 72% of respondents stated that volunteerism and philanthropy are critical for recruiting younger qualified employees.

(Source | FORBES New Paradigm: Volunteerism, Competence, and Results, 2011)

Budgeting in 2012

With every passing year, CSR becomes more and more ‘mainstream,’ which begs the question: how does this impact the associated budgets?  Specific to 2012, responses showed: 43% plan to increase their spending; 36% plan to keep it level; 18% will decrease and the remaining 4% are still figuring it out.

Budgets changes are oftentimes a direct reflection of program offering.  The introduction of matching, grants, and other incentive programs were some of the key drivers to those expecting to expand their budgets.

Engagement Goals 

The next set of data answers the question most frequently asked by our clients and prospects, “what sort of engagement do other companies expect from their programs?” We asked for specific engagement goals and broke down the responses into six groupings by total employees.

Responses ranged based on how engagement is measured, size of company, number of programs offered, and overall importance placed within the company.  The results showed that engagement, on average, ranged between 25% and 50%. Companies with programs specifically geared toward incentivizing the employee tended to have higher participation and, therefore, higher expectation for 2012.

Suggestion: Consider creative strategies (like skills-based volunteering or dollars-for-doers) to encourage employee volunteering. If an employee utilizes her specialized skills by doing pro bono work for a charity, it is three times more likely that she will gain material job skills than if she used more traditional skills, according to the Taproot Foundation.

3.6 Hours Goals, Focus, & Expectations 

Our survey showed that 64% of respondents plan to focus on their volunteer programs in 2012, compared to 11% on giving and 25% placing equal focus. This aligns with what was reported by Forbes, showing that more than two-thirds of the companies surveyed said “they believe their focus on volunteerism will increase over the next three years and that volunteerism is an essential part of their company’s leadership development strategy.”

On average, we found that employers are expecting each employee to volunteer roughly 3.6 hours throughout the year.   Furthermore, and in contradiction with Forbes, nearly 54% of respondents stated they are expanding their charitable options. Forbes showed that 70% of companies would rather support fewer causes with a deeper relationship, than a broad range of causes with less engagement.

Why we do what we do 

Similar to the way YourCause realized  in 2011 that ‘we care because our clients care.’   We wanted to ask why others put forth such effort via their CSR programs.  The responses were amazing and we thought we’d include a few we could all learn from.

Corporate responsibility extends not only to our own operations but to our wider communities. We recognize our continued success depends on the growth and health of our communities and partners, as well as the vitality and conservation of our natural resources.

Because it’s one of our Core Values and because a company is only as healthy as the communities where it does business.

We’re committed to supporting the communities where we live and work.  At  the heart of our purpose, it’s about helping people on their path to better health.  Therefore, it only make sense to promote better community services, and as a result, remain true to our core belief.

-YourCause Team


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