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Building effective CSR strategies

When your business starts to do well, there are plenty of ways that offer you a way to give back to the community. Be aware of your corporate social responsibility, and read on for strategies to implement.

Leading vocational education and training organisation, The Australasian College Broadway, recently announced a $570,000 community partnership with Dress for Success Sydney to support disadvantaged women.

The private College was established almost 20 years ago in response to a lack of training and standards in the Australian beauty industry. It has a long-term commitment to giving back to the community, demonstrated by this latest partnership which includes $100,000 in scholarships, complimentary style make-overs for clients, and a new website.

Here founder and co-chair of the College, Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM, shares her five tips for building effective partnerships with community organisations.

1. Support charitable organisations which align with the mission, values and strategy of your business. My top tip is about “giving back to the community”. This has always been my driving philosophy. It is also important to support community organisations that care about the same things you do. Both the College and Dress for Success Sydney share similar missions around enhancing women’s lives whether it’s through education or employment. We also have a strong alignment in values with a focus on respect for others.

2. Think ‘outside the box’ when it comes to your contribution. When you’re operating your own business, it might not always be financially viable to support charities through cash contributions. An effective community partnership is about more than just cash. How can you support a charity through the skills and expertise of your own business? What can you do from an in-kind perspective that doesn’t immediately impact on the bottom line?

For my business, it’s simple. I’m in the business of education and training and over the years, we’ve supported many charities through scholarship programs. In partnership with Dress for Success Sydney, we’re providing scholarships and complimentary style make-overs for clients who are preparing for job interviews. It works for Dress for Success because we can help to build the confidence of these women before they go to a job interview and it works for us because we need models for our students.

3. Create ways to engage your staff, clients and business network in the partnership. The best way to truly leverage a community partnership is to engage your key stakeholders. This not only creates a connection with them but also contributes to building your reputation as a socially responsible organisation to work for and to do business with. This is why the Dress for Success partnership is a perfect match for us. Our students get involved through giving the clients their make-overs and our staff volunteer and teach the clients on scholarships. In my experience,

business partners and suppliers are also keen to support our community initiatives – whether it’s contributing financially to a fundraising event, or donating products and services.

4. Clearly articulate the ways in which each organisation will contribute to the partnership. It’s essential for both organisations to articulate the shared goals of the partnership and what they will contribute through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This is important, because if things start to go awry (as they sometimes do), then you can both come back to the MOU and remind yourself why you set out on this journey in the first place. And if things aren’t working out the way you’d hoped, then an MOU will outline how either party can exit the partnership.

5. Measure the success and review your approach. It’s important at the outset to have agreed objectives that can be measured for each organisation. Don’t be afraid to articulate your business objectives – this is a business investment. Also, review your approach on a regular basis, what have you learnt and what could you do better?


For more information, visit The Australasian College