Early in January, Bankmed announced that, as part of its CSR initiatives, the bank chose “to replace its end-of-year Corporate Gifts by donations to seven Lebanese NGOs, granting each one an amount of USD 30,000 [for a total of $210,000].” The press release continued to say that by giving away such a sum during the holidays they can instead make “contributions that make a difference for those in need.”
While a seemingly altruistic effort on the Bank’s end, it is important to distinguish between what is charitable – or philanthropic – and real CSR. Ultimately, CSR is about strategy. It is about creating impact and finding the value proposition. For Bankmed, they should consider how efficient their impact is when engaging in charitable giving and question whether or not they are creating real social or business value. This is not to disregard the effect that donations can have on NGOs – especially when these organizations are in dire need of additional funds – but the act cannot be considered a strategic move or CSR!
Effective CSR uses strategy to simultaneously create societal and shareholder value. It’s about making your organization stronger, more resilient and more competitive, while contributing to society in a positive way.
Bankmed needs to realize that there is a more effective way to go about giving back — a way that can also give back to their company. It is only then that such philanthropy acts become strategic alliances and therefore, a truly testament of CSR.
Bankmed maintains that “Through these contributions, [they] continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the community through an act that clearly accentuates the spirit of giving and highlights its mission to engage with these and other NGOs as real partners in community-related deeds.” When it comes to working with cause-focused charities, the Bank should explicitly think about ensuring the participating charities get due respect for their work and not only communicate the Bank’s priorities.
In the end, the company and its “CSR campaign” wins because of its association with a good cause, but the charity arguably gets the scraps of a potentially strong partnership and foundation.
Author: Responsible Business - Beirut
Source: Responsible Business