Strategy at Work

A strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) program can yield far more than good will. It can add value to the organization, its customers, stakeholders (internal and external), and the growth of the business. Here are examples of three strategic initiatives implemented by Sarah BJ Sung, founder and principal of Pinnacle Social Impact Consultancy, to yield real results.

Boosting CRA rating and CSR recognition

One of the best strategies is to align your company’s core competency with a compelling social need and a strong community partner. The result is a high-value social impact.

Working with a national commercial banking corporation, Sarah BJ Sung created three initiatives to boost the bank’s CRA rating and recognition as good corporate citizen.

Financial literacy is an important factor in determining financial success and there is a gap in financial education among youth. To bridge this gap, BJ formed a partnership between the bank and a national financial services nonprofit organization to deliver a large scale financial literacy program targeting middle and high school students in every market where the bank operated. The initiative exceeded the goal of educating 100,000 youth in one year and also boosted the CRA score for the bank.

To address the need for affordable housing, BJ worked with the bank and a housing nonprofit partner to create a program that identified areas with the greatest need for affordable housing. That enabled the bank to target their financial support and corporate volunteer effort that resulted in several measurable impact: increased number of affordable homes in communities that needed it most, team-building and morale-boost among employees, and improved CRA rating for the bank. This initiative also garnered news coverage recognized by key stakeholders among community leaders, local elected officials, and volunteers.

Leading the charge

When disaster strikes, the common response from corporations is to make a donation to relief organizations. But Sarah BJ Sung saw an opportunity to do more and helped the bank go above and beyond.

After establishing a partnership with a major relief organization, BJ developed a program that recruited high-performing corporate employees to be trained in basic triage and assistance for disaster relief. The trained volunteers were then deployed to affected areas to work alongside professional relief workers.

On the home front, BJ worked with the operations division of the company to quickly devise a mechanism for their customers to participate in supporting relief efforts. The company was cited by customers as being a responsive and responsible corporate citizen. This coordinated program became a model and was replicated by other major corporations.

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