Is your business giving? Business strategy is more than ensuring your objectives of ROI and employee engagement are met. While business is all about profit, it may seem that giving a portion of that profit away goes against sound advice. However, corporate giving programs, also known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), are an incredibly valuable step in creating a strong business strategy.

Traditional corporate philanthropy without a plan can indeed be a distraction of time and resources. CSR, as it is practiced today, consists of measurable business activities that are also beneficial to society. There are many different charitable organizations and methods of being philanthropic which can help strengthen and support a sound business strategy.

According recent research, 86 percent of organizations believe that employees expect them to provide opportunities to engage in the community and 87 percent believe their employees expect them to support causes and issues that matter to those employees. You may wonder how “doing good” can actually do good for your business.

Generosity is the New Marketing

Your reputation is everything. In the era of social media, charitable companies benefit from earning a reputation as a “good” company. While you share across newsletters and social media, volunteers and charities will do the same. Sponsoring a charitable cause or volunteering resources is a great way to raise awareness about a cause, and also a great way to promote your business. In fact, 52 percent of employees want to share their own photos, videos and experiences on their personal social media platforms.

Targeting the correct charities, those which align with your business practices and goals, will act similarly to targeted marketing – spreading your business name by modern word of mouth.

Retention, Recruiting and Respect

Seventy percent of employees surveyed say they would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to important issues. Further research shows that employees who are engaged and committed put in 57 percent more effort while at work.

It’s true that offering employee engagement opportunities act as an important recruitment strategy to attract millennial employees too. Fifty-eight percent of employees consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work and 55 percent would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary was less. It is clear that CSR programs increase the likelihood of attracting the kind of candidates you want working for you.

Corporate giving also builds respect beyond your company walls by building a positive reputation in the community. Strong relations in the community are beneficial for not only existing customers, but also potential new customers.Ninety percent of companies surveyed indicated that partnering with reputable nonprofit organizations enhances their brand.<

Start with Strategy

Your corporate giving program, much like any other effort, cannot be diffused and unfocused. A company may think that small cash donations or general support to universities and charities will generate the reputation they desire among employees, customers and the community. However, CSR should be closely tied to well thought-out business objectives and ensure that contributions reflect the values of the organization. Corporate giving efforts require the same discipline and strategic thinking that any other business issue does.

The benefits of CSR cannot be understated. People want to work for socially responsible companies and customers want to purchase from companies that are doing good in the world. Organizations will only reap the benefits by approaching CSR through strategic processes with defined goals. An effective strategy can take time to build, but with a solid foundation, the results will be clear.