Though you may not realize it, every dollar you spend actively supports a certain type of business practice. If you’re not mindful with your money, you may inadvertently give to a company that doesn’t invest its profits as well or as ethically as it could.
In this respect, consumers represent the cornerstone of corporate social responsibility in the modern age, as it is their purchases that determine which companies are able to thrive and fulfill their various social obligations. So while CSR may represent a perfect opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability (while also building a progressive reputation), it is ultimately consumers who must distinguish between ethical and aware brands and those that are less socially orientated.
A Look at 5 Major Companies That Place a Huge Emphasis on CSR
The Coca-Cola Company
Through the Coca-Cola Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company has donated more than $820 million since 1984 to enhancing community sustainability. This includes over $117 million in 2015 alone. Over $8 million of this consisted of employee matching gifts. The company commits one percent of the prior year’s operating income to the foundation and other company donations. These donations cast a wide net, supporting almost 300 organizations around the globe.
The major priorities of the Coca-Cola Foundation are economic empowerment for women, water conservation, access to clean water, youth development, education, and civic initiatives. In 2015, some of the company’s many donations included the following:-
Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust — $500,000
Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, Inc. — $700,000
China Women Development Foundation — $800,000
American National Red Cross — $1,200,000
National Recreation and Park Association — $1,000,000
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company donated over $333 million to nonprofit organizations in 2015 through cash giving, product contributions, and public service announcements. The Disney VoluntEARS program encourages employee volunteerism. Through this program, volunteers have contributed 2.4 million hours of service since 2012.
Disney participates in a wide variety of projects and uses its distinctive branding to encourage participation and change on various fronts. The Star Wars: Force for Change initiative raised more than $4.2 million for UNICEF Innovation Labs by hosting a sweepstakes for a walk-on role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Through the Marvel Studios: Hero Acts initiative, Marvel Studios will donate $5 to Save the Children for every fan photo uploaded featuring a Marvel hero pose (up to $1 million total). Projects like these use smart branding to encourage charitable participation.
Amway’s charitable projects are organized around its mission of “Helping People Live Better Lives.” The Amway One by One Campaign for Children supports Amway affiliates, distributors, and employees in activities that help children in need. Since 2003, this initiative has generated $225 million in contributions and 3.1 million volunteer hours. Amway’s partnership with the U.S. Dream Academy helps young people make positive life changes through skill building, dream building, and character building.
Amway also supports important causes through its products. The company developed Nutrilite Little Bits packets that contain 15 essential micronutrients. Nutrilite Little Bits have helped support the health of almost 3,000 children in Zambia and Mexico. Through the end of the 2016, Amway will include 17 countries in this distribution program.
Support a good cause with your coffee by purchasing it from Starbucks. The Starbucks Foundation gave $6.9 million to nonprofit organizations in 2015. This included $1.5 million for social development grants and $3 million to Starbucks Opportunity for Youth.
Starbucks supports responsible activities throughout its supply and production chain. It supports efforts for biodiversity conservation, water sanitation, and agricultural training in the regions that supply its tea, coffee, and cocoa.
Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods is engaged in several foundations that support nutrition, wellness, and community. The Whole Planet Foundation strives to alleviate poverty in 69 countries that Whole Foods sources products from. The Whole Kids Foundation supports nutrition for children with initiatives like the School Salad Bar Program, School Garden Grant Program, and Healthy Teachers Program.
The Whole Cities Program works to bring healthful foods to underserved communities. It partnered with the ReFresh Project to help eliminate food deserts, where residents have trouble accessing nutritious groceries, and for revitalizing communities in need.
Not only do these brands set examples and templates for SMEs and similar companies to follow, but they also establish a benchmark in terms of how and where consumers spend their money.
From a customer perspective, it is important to make sure you are buying from businesses that give back in meaningful ways. These companies demonstrate just a small sampling of the good you can do by spending your money in the right places. Research before you buy so you always know whom you’re backing and their approach to business ethics.