Technology has played a huge role in transforming every walk of our lives. Be it our learning, entertainment, communication, or the way we work and operate. Every industry is going through a digital transformation if it hasn’t already. Businesses have become efficient, smart, fast, and more profitable with the strategic implementation of technological innovations into their processes.
While organizations continue to leverage technology to enhance productivity, it is crucial for them to understand that business objectives and social responsibility are the two sides of the same coin. Corporates across the world realize the direct impact of social responsibilities on their business performance. For this relationship to further strengthen, organizations need to proactively embrace CSR technology to elevate their CSR game.
Need for technology in CSR
Technology can contribute to increasing the effectiveness of social service delivery, enabling it to be more responsive to the needs of the communities that it serves. Technology can help social organizations, by looking at the core strengths of the organization, how they are changing, and if there are issues that could be addressed with technology.
- Inefficient planning and reporting of CSR programs
There is a huge potential for technology in strategizing, planning, managing, and reporting a company’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs, thereby propelling the journey towards greater impact. For companies who wish to break away from the traditional way of doing and managing CSR programs, technology is going to be the game changer in the long run.
- Lack of intelligent data
There is a dearth of data-driven intelligence in CSR which makes it challenging for corporates to strategize the usage of their funds for business responsibility initiatives. The existence of comprehensive and relevant data points about a Corporate Social Responsibility program is extremely crucial to draw any actionable insights. The data can only be gathered in an efficient and streamlined manner if the program monitoring frameworks are well thought through and executed well by leveraging technology.
- Lack of effective collaboration
Many stakeholders of the ecosystem – not only companies but NGOs too – struggle to have clarity pertaining to CSR programs, objectives, and performance. Technology can help them build a platform to induce transparency, effective monitoring, and accountability in the CSR ecosystem. Every step in the process can be optimized to ensure successful program execution. Technology can be seamlessly incorporated into each step that is critical in a company’s CSR lifecycle.
- Inefficient traditional processes
Traditionally, planning, executing, and monitoring CSR program performance was a tiresome process. A lack of efficient processes often led to ineffective CSR programs and organizations failed to achieve their desired objectives. However, with technological platforms, companies can revamp their CSR programs and adopt a new, better, and tech-driven approach.
How technology can be GOOD for CSR
Having understood the need for technology and innovation to further enhance CSR programs and their impacts, let us now explore how data and technology can catalyze a company’s efforts to achieve the desired impact from its CSR programs:
- Good execution
Technology platforms for the social sector can bring greater transparency in implementation. They can ensure that all the stakeholders are on the same page. Technology can help in prioritizing CSR expenditure by aligning the strategies and goals with social needs and responsibilities. It can also identify and choose the right partners at the planning stage. These steps iron out any potential risks by laying down the plan of execution for every stakeholder to refer to and manage on-ground activities accordingly and thereby, completing all the CSR activities in the life cycle effectively.
- Good planning & monitoring
The planning stage of a CSR program is a crucial step, it’s a step that lays down the foundation of a program. Thus, strong planning is a very important step that can be made easy by introducing technology platforms. These platforms can also be leveraged to effectively monitor CSR frameworks across NGO partners irrespective of their geographical location. Tech-based monitoring of CSR programs provides eyes on the ground and direct access to last-mile beneficiaries which paper-based monitoring cannot.
After the frameworks are crystallized, the NGO partners can feed real-time data from ground zero for donors and companies to refer to at any point in time.
Once the frameworks are finalized, standardization of these monitoring frameworks can save a great deal of subjectivity and uncertainty and thereby wastage of invaluable resources.
- Good reporting
A pivotal activity, which if not executed accurately can wash away any impact created by the CSR programs, is reporting. Donors should understand how their CSR funds are being utilized, for which activities, for which beneficiaries, and at what time intervals. Any gap in this communication between the company and the NGO partners can lead to a strong possibility of the program failing to make any impact. This can also adversely affect future donations.
In the current situation, mobile phones and the internet are an almost omnipresent phenomenon. The CSR sector must also leverage mobile technology to promote real-time communication between companies and NGO partners and other stakeholders.
Today, CSR discussions are elevated at the board-room level. Tech-based program management platforms allow companies to not only get regular reports from their NGO partners but also draw clear value statements for the board-level executives.
- Good learning
Learning comes from facts, data, and experiences. Technology facilitates intelligent skimming of data to understand what is going right and wrong during the program tenure.
Apart from prompting any requirement for mid-course corrections, tech platforms help in analyzing large data. This analysis helps in mapping trends, issues, successes and failures, and any other activities that require urgent attention. These insights act as the building blocks of a strong edifice of community impact that CSR aims at.
- Good strategy
A good CSR strategy stems from a direct output of learning-based planning. A long-term vision for a conducive CSR program cannot be successful without factual support and planning. Past experiences and data insights can provide the much-needed learnings to build a robust CSR strategy for sustainable growth.
Technology is evolving at an unprecedented rate to complement human efforts to make this world a better place for everyone to live in. Organizations can leverage technology to revamp their CSR approach and embrace a data-driven process to ensure the success of CSR programs.
Let’s together ensure that we utilize CSR technology to strike a balance between doing good and making businesses profitable.