Should Small Companies Care About CSR? An Honest Answer

When you think of CSR, do you automatically think of huge enterprises like McDonald’s, Microsoft, Disney or LEGO? 

Sustainable business practices are being pursued and promoted by businesses of all sizes—even the itty bitty tiny two-person team. 

But you’d be forgiven for thinking CSR is reserved for the big kids. They’re the ones that run bigger promotional campaigns letting the world know exactly what sustainable goodness they’re doing. 

Small businesses don’t usually have that luxury.

But CSR is important, and highly effective, for smaller businesses too. 

That’s because, in recent years, businesses trying to work more ethically or environmentally responsibly would spend untold amounts of time and effort on their campaigns, just to be met with, well, crickets. 

Sustainability hasn’t always rewarded companies with a return on investment (ROI).

But that’s changed now. Business sustainability and ethics have evolved into something so much more meaningful. 

Business owners can actually reduce their costs with sustainable alternatives. They can increase the company’s productivity, power-charge their reputation and gain loyal customers and product advocators for life—all while doing good in their communities. 

That’s CSR.

Benefits of CSR for both large and small businesses

When companies launch CSR campaigns and they do it well, the rewards are endless. Here are just a small handful of ways both large and small companies can benefit from a well-executed CSR programme:

  • Higher sales margins
  • Increased profit and revenue
  • Higher employee happiness
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Better team productivity
  • Stronger reputation
  • More loyal customers 
  • Lifelong customers
  • Stronger competitive advantage

And that’s not all. Every organisation is different, and the improvements in business can be tenfold the above.

The only real difference between the effects of CSR on small and large businesses is that the smaller you are, the less effect it may have on your reputation. And that can be a good thing. 

A large company can lose sales or stock literally overnight if their reputation takes a hit. The bigger the company, the more damaging this could be, particularly when there are shareholders and equity stakes involved. 

Large companies can’t divert from a programme once they’ve started it—any hint of not following through can backlash horribly and ultimately drag their reputation through the mud. 

Small businesses don’t typically have that pressure.

CSR for small businesses

CSR for small businesses aren’t always that different from those of larger enterprises—the difference is often in the scale. Let’s take a look at a few recent examples of CSR in the underdogs:

The Giving Keys

Based in LA, The Giving Keys is a small business dedicated to providing employment to people transitioning out of homelessness in the local area.

They’ve created a social impact employment model that truly acts on the company mission—every purchase that’s made supports job creation, and each job they offer comes with benefits, paid time-off for housing, and case management appointments. 


Irish haircare brand Paradoxx is dedicated to raising awareness around the necessary amount of waste created in the beauty industry. 

They’ve now become the world’s first 90% plastic-free haircare brand, using sustainable materials to encourage more environmentally-friendly products from haircare brands.

Hotel Doolin 

Another Irish company, Hotel Doolin launched its Green Team Initiative in 2013 to become a completely carbon-neutral hotel.

To reach their goal, the hotel plants trees after every wedding held at the hotel. They also host clean-ups of the coast, grow their own fruit and vegetables, and don’t sell any plastic bottles. Go, Hotel Doolin!

CSR ideas for small businesses

There are typically four types of CSR initiatives:

  • Philanthropy
  • Environmental
  • Diversity and labour practices
  • Economic responsibility

Whichever type of CSR you choose to pursue will depend entirely on your what’s important to you and your company’s core values. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Sponsor a local sports team
  • Give discounts to local military members and healthcare workers
  • Improve your labour policies
  • Take part in fairtrade
  • Reduce your company’s carbon footprint
  • Reduce gas emissions
  • Support women in developing countries
  • Contribute to fighting the climate change crisis

How to promote your CSR initiative

Regardless of how effective your CSR project is, it won’t matter if nobody knows about it. 

That’s why the way you get the word out can sometimes be just as impactful as the grant itself. Here’s what you should do:

  • Promote, promote, promote. 
  • Wherever your company lives online, use your platforms, website and social channels to let the world know about your new CSR efforts
  • Make your project the shining star of your website’s homepage
  • Include it in your newsletters 
  • Ask any partners or shareholders to share your announcements on their own channels
  • Create short videos (aim for 30 seconds) that present your CSR story in a digestible and engaging way. Videos outperform any other type of content online so this can help you reach more people and create awareness around your programme

How Submit helps companies build a culture of giving

When it comes to making positive change, one thing businesses need is a simple and easy way to manage, track and monitor their efforts.

Submit’s customers use the platform to manage their CSR efforts from start to finish, so they can spend more time leaving a positive impact and less time on admin tasks.

Whether its employee volunteerism or grant management, philanthropy is known for having lots of moving parts and plenty of complex processes. 

By working from one centralised location you can get a clear overview of your programme, delegate responsibility to the team, track progress, measure results with reporting tools and lots more. Ready to make a memorable impact? Get started with a free demo of the platform and find out how you can make an even bigger impact with CSR.

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