Six CSR Strategies for Startups

Silicon Valley Community Foundation Board of Directors. Back Row from left: Eduardo Rallo, Jayne Battey, Tom Stocky, Thurman V. White, Jr., Dan’l Lewin, Catherine A. Molnar, Erik Dryburgh Middle Row: Marie Oh Huber, Julie Miraglia Kwon, Rose Jacobs Gibson, Kate Mitchell, Lynn A. McGovern Seated left to right: David P. Lopez, Emmett D. Carson (CEO and President), C.S. Park (Chair), Samuel Johnson, Jr. (Vice Chair) Not Pictured: Carol Bartz, Robert A. Keller, Wade W. Loo, Anne F. Macdonald, Laura Miele (Photo courtesy SVCF) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California, October 18, 2016 ( News) – Startups now have a new strategic guide to help them build a record of social responsibility, courtesy of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The philanthropic SVCF is located in Mountain View, where many of the world’s largest technology companies – Google, Symantec, Intuit – are also headquartered.

 In the course of its work of supporting companies and foundations to drive social impact locally and globally, the the foundation says it often is approached by startups asking how they can use their energy and vision for the social good.

To translate a company’s purpose into social responsibility practices, SVCF has compiled six strategies that startups can consider and published them in a new guide, “Starting with Purpose,” based on experiences and insights of startups and industry leaders.

Startups looking for guidance in creating a social responsibility plan – to give back to the community, engage employees in meaningful causes, and instill responsible business practices in operations – are encouraged to work with SVCF’s team of social responsibility experts.

Their Six Social Responsibility Strategies Are:

 1. Cultivate a Culture Committed to Social Change

 As startups have multiplied and flourished, so have stories of the “startup culture,” with flexible hours, unlimited free snacks and catered lunches, permission to bring dogs to work, and open-office seating adjacent to their CEO. This vision has become a stereotype, but the effort many startups put into cultivating a strong culture is substantial and can be productive.

SVCF says, “When a culture includes empathy and awareness of social impacts, it can be an extremely powerful tool for building a commitment to social responsibility.”

2. Connect with Local Communities

Be a good neighbor. Social responsibility need not mean attempting to solve national challenges or donating millions of dollars. It can mean rallying employees to support local businesses or opening a company’s doors to the community.

3. Donate or Discount Products or Services to Drive Social Change

Many businesses have products and services that can help support nonprofit organizations as effectively as cash donations can.

4. Lay the Groundwork for a Sustainable Supply Chain

Increasingly, consumers want to know where a product comes from; what environmental burden results from its manufacture; and under what working conditions the product is made.

Knowing the business practices of partners and suppliers – and deciding how to influence them – is an important consideration for any startup’s social responsibility strategy,” the foundation advises.

5. Translate Diversity Values into Practice

Diversity is part of social responsibility, and a commitment to diversity is not optional. Many startups believe diversity is a business imperative and necessary core value.

SVCF writes, “We include it here for two reasons: The startup struggle for diverse talent has been widely publicized and scrutinized; and many of the startups SVCF spoke to are working to balance competition for talent and diversity.

As startups work to develop or implement a diversity strategy, they should consider how to ensure diversity in their leadership, how to make diversity a priority and how to work with their communities to build a pipeline of talent,” the foundation advises.

6. Make a Public and Formal Commitment to Social Responsibility

While some companies bake a social commitment directly into their mission (think of TOMS’ one-for-one model), others layer on more formal public commitments or adhere to business structures to build momentum behind their social impact strategies. Companies can consider a formal commitment such as Pledge 1% or certification as a B Corp to direct their social responsibility program.

More details on these strategies are outlined in the guide, “Starting with Purpose.

In partnership with its individual and corporate donors, Silicon Valley Community Foundation awarded a total of $823 million to charities in 2015, benefiting thousands of people and causes in the Bay Area, across the United States and around the world.

SVCF made a total of 122,000 grants in 2015, including those awarded by individuals, families and companies through advised funds, and grants awarded through corporate matching gift programs.

SVCF received $1.2 billion in new gifts from individual and corporate donors in 2015, bringing its charitable assets under management to approximately $7.3 billion.

Said the foundation, “These results demonstrate the tremendous generosity of Silicon Valley philanthropists and their desire to make a positive difference in their local communities and around the world.”

For more information on how SVCF can assist startups, contact [email protected]

Group from the startup Angelcam shows their security camera apps and cloud storage at ISC WEST, the largest security industry trade show in the United States, April 17, 2015 (Photo by Petr Ocasek) Creative Commons license via Flickr


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