Good CSR Communications Are About “Show Me, Don’t Tell Me”

Many brands have stepped up and provided exceptional support around COVID-19 In recent weeks—and consumer response has typically gone one of two ways: People are either genuinely appreciative and full of praise, or they’re angry and don’t feel the brand is doing enough.

Garnering positive feedback hinges largely on emphasizing the impact of your CSR efforts—rather than just the size of your donation. Now more than ever, putting a social value on giving is more important than the dollar value.

The fact is, when a brand announces a monetary donation, there will almost always be naysayers who dispute the amount and say it should be higher.

Part of this is due to the fact that simply providing a number can be subconsciously interpreted as lacking depth and humanity. It can be seen as “buying off” the issue. The result is a disconnect between the act and the good that will come of it.

A straight dollar figure also makes it easy for consumers to measure the company’s donation against its profits, and against donations of other companies.

But communicating the impact the money will have gives it a human perspective. And as humans, we relate to that.

WE is a great example of a company that applies this thinking to all of its communication. WE is all about impact—telling us what rather than how much:

  • 1 million people have gained access to drinking water
  • 200,000 children are now being educated
  • 30,000+ women have been given the tools to be self-sufficient

In today’s COVID-19 world, our philanthropic currency is masks, ventilators, and hand sanitizer. That is what we use to measure a brand’s gift-giving impact. As a result, a brand needs to be seen to be “doing something” rather than just writing a cheque.

Take the recent example of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who used the team’s plane to fly 1.2 million N95 masks to the U.S.

This kind of leadership not only helps the cause directly, but also sets an example for other large organizations—as well as inspiring individuals to take action.

And the operative word is “action”. Regardless of the size and scale of your giving, COVID-19 has made it essential to communicate your brand’s ability to shorten the gap between the act of giving and the quantifiable impact of giving. You quite literally need to be seen as part of the solution.