man sitting at his computer

Lesson IV: Impact Over Intention: Knowing your CSR efforts are helping, not hurting

It’s been a hard lesson to learn, but for years we did it wrong.  We sought to provide relief to a community by filling a void. We looked at what others were lacking and what we had in abundance that we might share with them.  We believed that if we could give them a portion of our things, we could change their world, feel good about it and absolve our guilt.  

Little did we know what sharing our second-hand clothes with the developing world would make their own textile weavers, garment sewers, and retail sales of the clothing industry obsolete.  We failed to consider that if food was given for free everyday, then there would be no need to nurture the self-grown crops that are rich in the area.  

We were inadvertently stripping them of their dignity to provide for their own vitality in feeble efforts to do something good.  Without the dignity to be a part of their own success story, dependency on outside support becomes the way of life.  

There are multiple ways to approach a systematic problem, some are more helpful than others, but ultimately people want to be a part of change.  After much learning and listening and refining, we now foster transformation without creating long-term harm through an inadvertent road to dependency.

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Employee Parallel 

People want to work for a company that isn’t offering incentives in order to “retain” them at work. They don’t want to just send money to an organization; they want all of their spending to mean something. 

Marketers and owners are aware of this and have offered up work time to allow for volunteering and offered to match their employees’ giving to nonprofits and identified causes. But without a tremendous amount of authenticity behind the intentions, the efforts will foster more harm than good. If we value strategy in developing our organizations, the same is to be done with building and nurturing that greater purpose of our workplace.Begin by assessing your employees’ heartbeat for purpose. Our Workplace Purpose Assessment can help you get a read on how your employees feel the organization is stepping into change and how they perceive your current efforts.