The Two Sides of CSR by @JennG_

There are pros and cons to corporate social responsibility. Donations to a local organization after a conference can boost employee morale and stir some marketing buzz in the host city while contributing to the local community. However, I’m knee deep in personal reading material about the negative consequences charity and service trips can have.

For a long time, I didn’t care why ABC Fortune 500 company gave. It still was going to a good cause. It didn’t matter if the leaders’ intentions were purely promotional because the local shelter needed the money. I’m beginning to realize it’s not that black and white.

This is on my mind because I’m also in the middle of writing about one of the best CSR projects I’ve seen in a while. Crowdsourcing allows attendees to choose a personal cause for the group to help rather than the typical impersonal giant check presented to a local children’s hospital (more on that in the next Collaborate magazine).

The event professional’s role in choosing CSR programs requires research just as a consultant has to learn a company culture before he can offer advice or a speaker should learn the audience’s goals and objectives before waxing poetic on how individuals should work differently. Any time a group or individual comes from the outside to stir change, whether it’s community service or another effort, understanding the needs, assets and work already in place is key to achieving the desired outcomes.

Here are some questions to ask before stamping your organizations’ name on a project:

1. Does the organization you are helping have good processes already in place that your corporate culture should not override?

2. What can your attendees learn from the people who you are helping?

3. What are the long-term benefits for your group and the organization you are helping?

Rather than offer more advice on this complicated subject, I’d like to hear your opinions and experience. Tell me what you think on Twitter @jenng_, or if it takes more than 140 characters, put them in the comments below.

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