Rewards and recognition in the CSR arena: a practitioner’s perspective

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Acknowledgment helps strengthen one’s self-belief and recognition is the biggest motivator to push one beyond limits.

By Nirbhya Lumdey

History is made, created and rewritten over decades and sometimes for over centuries. All of us love history for various reasons, to understand various perspectives for good or bad. In the formal parlance of CSR in India, the storyline is little over three years. The beginnings are interesting and it is equally important to capture and celebrate small successes. It’s all but natural to be appreciated and recognized for achievements however small or big the milestones are.

The readers are expected to excuse the usage of various adjectives used interchangeably in the article – appreciation, reward, award or recognition. The present article is an attempt to understand the need for creation and nurturing of platforms to recognize and reward CSR success stories. Success breeds success!

Recognition is self-actualization, a mark of achievement of full potential as an organization. It makes good business sense and a business enterprise stands to gain from reputation. It is crucial for any organization, in business or CSR or charity, to gain recognition for its contributions. It distinguishes itself from competitors and ensures the well-deserved attention. It also raises awareness of the brand. Awards help differentiate from the rest, build visibility and give an edge over the competitors. It also validates the good work and is endorsement of achievements. Awards are statements of positive testimonials.

There are three large categories of players within the Indian CSR space: the corporates, the implementing agencies and the torchbearers, who ought to get recognized for their best efforts. The following three paragraphs details on how each one of these groups contribute towards building meaningful CSR projects and the importance of recognizing their effort and hard work.

Among these three players, the prominent one is the corporate company or business enterprise that initiates various social development projects. The corporate, funds, drives and monitors various projects under their CSR arm. Managing social development is not the cup of tea for many corporates and seldom have they come forward to foray into this space. There are other equally important business priorities and corporates are putting extra efforts to master the art of managing CSR.

Corporates deserve attention, acknowledgement and recognition for their efforts and successes. It also paves way for meaningful collaborations among corporates. Collaboration is essential for mutual growth of the business more so in the development space and is a means to an end. Collaboration further helps CSR players to be self-aware of each other’s strengths and paves the way to seek or receive support on need basis. Collaboration may not necessarily be easy but certainly an experience and a true learning opportunity.

In India, all companies, including multinational enterprises, with stipulated amount of turnover or profits have to spend 2% of the net profits towards social development causes. The government mandates corporates to undertake CSR projects either directly or through funding implementing agencies.  NGOs, voluntary organizations and development consultancies have been prominent in taking up the implementation role. Implementation of CSR projects is largely taken up by NGOs. Multinational enterprises are also making inroads in the social development sector with infusion of their professional practices. However, implementation agencies will continue to play a larger role in undertaking CSR projects.

Increasing prosperity and increased focus on CSR spending will definitely help in increasing the number of partners. It is just a matter of fact that the NGOs that are able to adopt best practices and bring about maximum transparency through auditing and reporting will receive a larger chunk of funds in the coming years. CSR spending will benefit only the most credible implementing partners, is attracted to newer projects and allows them to scale up. This is a good trend, as larger and more accountable implementation agencies will be able to deliver more effectively and efficiently, making best use of the current resources exploring newer and larger projects.

The CSR space needs more progressive partners spanning across geographies. It would be an understatement to say that there aren’t many progressive partners, as in the current scenario of things, many partners are doing exceptional work, but in various isolated pockets. Their work is seldom recognized and goes unnoticed. It is the right time to uncover and disseminate information on high impact projects and programs to gain wider deserved attention.

Awards and recognition platforms create opportunities to show their strength. The only way of knowing and understanding capacities and the caliber of any implementation agency is through showcasing their work in various forums. It would be highly beneficial to earmark, set up and run high visibility platforms for greater good. These also help in aggregating high impact projects for others to emulate. It is not just that rewards and recognition will continue to play a larger and meaningful role in making CSR space interesting but also plays an essential catalyst for implementation agencies to open themselves for showcasing their success stories for others to emulate.

There are many individuals relentlessly contributing towards making the CSR space more interesting and enriching by their innovative practices. It is important that these individuals are also recognized, which in turn would inspire others. Make the case for the role of these individual contributors in setting the trend, especially in the context of CSR 3.0.

Such opportunities provide a platform to showcase how these torchbearers are already leading deliberations and research; how they connect and ensure multi partner collaborations in creating unique CSR projects and the crucial role they play in disseminating success stories through their writings and publications. These platforms also strengthen dialogue on CSR implementation practices and lead to further collaborations. It would certainly help in activating and energizing the entire CSR ecosystem.

It is heartening to note that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, has announced its plans to institute awards for CSR activities across sectors as part of efforts to incentivize companies to take up work towards social welfare. The space would become even more interesting and exciting with private partners arranging for many such forums and platforms to recognize and reward good doers. It would certainly inspire, activate and energize the CSR space. The hope is for the good!

About the Author: Nirbhay Lumde is a Corporate Social Responsibility professional and writes on current social, economic and environmental trends. He is an alumnus of IIT Bombay. The views expressed in the article are personal. 

Condition: India CSR dose not permit other websites/Agency to copy or reproduce or reprint the above article in any form.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR.

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