Prioritizing Corporate Social Responsibility in the Era of Remote Work

Posted on November 2, 2020

By Shannon Campbell

In 2020, social justice issues rose to the forefront of public consciousness, requiring companies to take a stand where it matters. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are more important than ever. However, in a year where in-person volunteer work isn’t always an option, and cautious budgeting limits monetary donations, companies are struggling to determine how to best give back. 

Here are some ways that OffleashCARES—Offleash’s CSR arm—has navigated these changes in 2020:

Focus on giving back virtually 
In March, we regretfully had to cancel our eighth annual Earth Day volunteer event, where we partner with the Presidio Trust in San Francisco to help restore Mountain Lake. As it became apparent that we would be working remotely through the end of the year, we shifted our focus to an initiative that would let us give back from the safety of our homes. 

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to fundraising last year, our team (along with loved ones) was fortunate enough to attend the walk in-person. 

This year, the organization’s San Francisco Walk is taking place virtually on Sunday, Nov. 15. We’re looking forward to seeing the creative ways people participate in the walk from their own neighborhoods, whether through a car parade or sidewalk art. Through the support of our family, friends, and peers, we were able to exceed our fundraising goal for 2020. 

Set aside budget for reactive charitable contributions, if possible
Many companies right now are limited in budget and have had to reallocate resources as a result of the pandemic. For those who do have the funds for CSR, we recommend setting aside a set amount of budget to react to what’s happening in the world around and give back as needed. 

Even if it’s a smaller amount than you’re accustomed to, every bit matters. With this approach, OffleashCARES has made contributions to Ada’s Cafe, Black Girls Code, Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, San Francisco Education Fund, United Nations Crisis Relief for Lebanon, and Vote.org.

The key is having these funds pre-approved, so that you can donate to organizations when there’s an immediate need. This prevents the last minute scramble to make your case for budget or figure out how you’ll reallocate from other areas of the business.

Philanthropic engagement isn’t limited to monetary donations or volunteer time
It’s always been a best practice to be mindful of asking employees to donate personal funds, and that now holds true more than ever. But you can still empower your colleagues to remain engaged in other ways.

Every Friday afternoon, Offleash compiles and distributes an internal newsletter to close the week out right. Think of it as a virtual water cooler, sharing anything from tips on managing work-life balance, to recipes, to funny animal videos. 

To keep CSR top of mind this year, we added a section called “OffleashCARES Corner,” in which we highlight meaningful causes and charitable resources. There is no expectation for action, but it’s a simple way to help broaden awareness for different causes. 

Here are a few examples from past newsletters:

  • We wanted to pass along this article from UC Berkeley’s The Greater Good Science Center, which explains how giving back and volunteering can help improve mental health. Something to consider during these times when we’re all trying to find ways to destress!
  • In lieu of its annual fundraising gala, the Northern California Innocence Project — a nonprofit that works to exonerate people wrongfully convicted of crimes — set up a free virtual experience showcasing some of the stories of the 30 people they’ve freed over two decades.
  • If you’re looking to restock on face masks, CNN provides a list of options where portions of your purchase will go toward a charitable cause, such as donating masks to frontline workers.

Listen to what matters to employees
When in doubt, listen for which causes are close to employees’ hearts. Our involvement with Autism Speaks came about because several Offleash friends and employees have family members on the spectrum, including Executive VP Julie Tangen’s grandson and VP Tanaya Lukaszewski’s daughter. If the causes you’re contributing to have a personal connection to employees, they are more likely to be active participants and make a lasting impact.

If your CSR program has stalled in 2020, we hope you’ll consider implementing the tips above. OffleashCARES is always excited to learn what other CSR teams are doing. If you’d like to share what your company has been doing to give back this year, drop us a line at wecare@offleashpr.com—we’d love to hear from you!

Shannon oversees day-to-day activity and strategy for organizations in a wide range of spaces, from cybersecurity to companies entrenched in the developer community. Contact Shannon here