Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be a source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage to your organisation if approached in a considered and strategic way. The value created can be far-reaching — providing reputational and financial benefits, and positively impacting the causes or companies supported — and should out-weigh the direct cost of the CSR initiatives.
However, ‘value versus cost’ should not be the only equation you consider. You should also consider the cost of inaction — what would be the cost to government and society (including your organisation) if nothing was done to support a particular issue, cause, or initiative?
The cost to government and society of not taking action to address complex societal issues — such as homelessness, unemployment, physical and mental health, environmental sustainability, to name a few — is staggering and almost too great to comprehend.
Available statistics paint a dire picture. For example, it is estimated that people experiencing homelessness cost the government approximately $30,000 more than average Australians1. With more than 105,000 Australians experiencing homelessness each and every night of the year, that’s a cost to the government of more than $3 billion per year. If it weren’t for the efforts of not-for-profit organisations working in this area, this cost would be even greater.
It is for this reason that we are proud to support a variety of not-for-profit organisations as part of our CSR strategy.
One such organisation we support is the St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies). For five years, Rowland Chairman, Geoff Rodgers, has participated in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout — a unique event that provides a first-hand, life-changing experience of what it is like to be homeless. The event engages business, government, and community leaders to sleep rough for one night and raise much-needed funds to combat homelessness. With the funds generated, Vinnies provides services that address the ‘heart’ of each individual’s challenges, working to prevent and break the cycle of homelessness.
Geoff’s personal involvement in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout is in addition to Rowland staff making personal donations and providing pro bono communication support to bolster the success of the event. Geoff’s visible leadership and the hands-on opportunities for staff are critical to the success of this CSR initiative, which continues to deliver personal, professional, and financial value to our organisation.
1 Homeless Persons Week 2014 campaign. Available at: http://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au/index.php/2014-campaign