Beth Crivello-Wagner

CSR: A Gift for your Brand that Keeps on Giving

By Beth Crivello-Wagner on December 1, 2016

‘Tis the season! Oh, how we anticipate the brightly wrapped packages delivered by a portly, breaking-and-entering-yet-above-the-law elf. We wonder in the twinkling sparkle of sharing good fortune with one another, and bask in the glow of both giving and receiving. But as you shop and wrap and belt out “Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey” louder than Louis Prima, are you thinking about how your brand can joyfully get in on the action?

The spirit of the holidays is not just about gift giving, rather it’s about creating a sense of community that can last throughout the year. So perhaps the greatest gift you can give your brand is built around a similar premise. What I am referring to is the lasting gift of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

About a year ago, Core launched its own CSR program to underscore our commitment to giving back to the communities that support us. That program, called Share It, was a strategic initiative that exemplified our core belief that companies that do good for others, do well for themselves. Launched in December 2015, Core spent the past year both giving to others and receiving so much more in return.

Our program was three fold:

  1. Define and structure our pro-bono activities around our brand value of being “selfless.”
  2. Create a culture of giving with our own people through volunteerism.
  3. Engage our clients in the process, further embracing and exemplifying our WE philosophy.

The idea was simple. If we were to truly live our brand, we needed to welcome the community in to be a strong and vital part of who we are. Therefore, we reached out to our clients and asked them to nominate non-profit organizations they believed in. Those organizations were welcomed to provide a request for services to which Core would select winners we felt we could truly impact. Our goal was to provide $100,000 worth of in-kind services to community organizations who needed our support. And provide we did. We worked with six non-profits in Southeast Wisconsin, providing brand support, content and creative development, PR services and more.

Additionally, to help create a motivated and empowered work environment dedicated to giving back, we provided multiple opportunities for our employees. First, we allocated an annual benefit of 10 volunteer hours from which employees could take time out of their workday to give back to any organization of his or her choice. Next, we empowered our Core Gives team – an internal group of employees focused on developing and executing ways for all of us to give back together – to coordinate volunteer and giving opportunities on a monthly basis.

The outcomes were extraordinary.

  • We made a total in-kind investment of approximately $200,000 to organizations like HEAR Wisconsin, Just One More Ministries, Shorewood House, HALO, among others, and made an impact on organizations that make our communities more vital, enriching and supportive.
  • Core employees in total donated more than 300 hours of volunteer time to approximately 20 non-profit organizations including Feeding Mouths Filling Minds, Islands of Brilliance, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Greater Together, Hunger Task Force and more.
  • Core helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support these organizations through fundraising, donor marketing and event marketing.

But what did the Core brand get from all of this? The benefits are still accumulating, but so far:

  • Networking has opened doors for new relationships and business.
  • Core gained new employees who share our values and mission.
  • Share It impacted our culture by providing opportunities for team building with a purpose.
  • Core received recognition and exposure through earning a BizTimes Non-Profit Excellence Award.

These are just a few of the gifts we have received to date. However, the most important is the sense of pride we feel as an organization knowing that others have benefitted from our talents and gifts.

So as you grab slippers for Sarah and purchase pajamas for Pete, don’t forget to put BRAND at the top of your list. Your organization, your customers and your community will be forever grateful.

Beth Crivello-Wagner is the Vice President of Brand Services at Core Creative.