Community support and development programs are one of the very first and main topics of corporate social responsibility.
The primary goal of a responsible company’s community program should be management and mitigation of negative impacts caused by its business activities. To do this, the company should have effective and well-organized community involvement, impact management, monitoring and response systems and procedures in place.
Besides, when implementing their community support programs, the goal of companies often is to contribute to community development and tackling various problems that might not be linked to the company operations or its impacts, but are acute and urgent for the society and separate communities.
Community development corporate programs are diverse and might be targeting different needs of the community, such as, for example:
Corporate social investments/philanthropic programs are one of effective and common ways allowing the company to make its contribution in community development. In general, in most cases, social investments and philanthropic actions do not have direct relations with the company’s main business activity (unlike all other components of corporate social responsibility). The goal of such activities is to improve the company’s relations with local society/community and make positive changes in the environment in which it operates.
Community development methods were evolving and refining over several decades. After 1990s, more companies started to adopt strategic approaches in implementing community development programs. This has been reflected in the selection of priority issues, as well as in implementation of the programs and evaluating results.
Desirably, companies should avoid implementing projects that will increase the community dependence on the organization’s assistance. These are projects that cannot be sustained after the company terminates its assistance activities or moves away from the community (for example, will be closed down, or change activity location, etc.). Social programs should be long-term sustainable. Instead of just one-time solving of some problems, they should continually contribute to economic and social development of the local community. (To find out more, please see: Philanthropy Impact https://www.philanthropy-impact.org/)
The organization should also promote involvement of community representatives in the planning and implementation of community projects.
Community dialogue and community engagement are especially important principles of corporate social responsibility.
Community engagement could be defined as: cooperation of the company with the communities adjacent to its activity areas, as well as with other communities who the company impacts through its activities, to identify and resolve the issues that are related to the well-being of the members of those communities.
It is based on the idea that all people, who are impacted by the organization’s operations, have the right to voice their opinions, and these voices should be listened to and considered in the decision making. Accordingly, community engagement means that the company adopts partnership approaches towards the communities (social groups) that are impacted by the company activities, considers their opinions, holds dialogues to identify and prevent problems that are important to the community, holds regular consultations with representatives of local communities on community development program planning issues whether those are related to programs for mitigating the company’s negative impacts on the community or initiatives to meet the community needs and resolve the problems; also, holds communication prior to altering or expanding its activities, or moving the operations into another region, to discuss any potential impacts that these changes might have on the community.