Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), or donations, can often be seen as window-dressing, but when done right corporate responsibility can bring personal fulfillment through the act of giving. Earning my living helping corporations (and individuals) utilize the media and public forums to build their brand, I am often asked if certain charitable initiatives will help companies make more, or be portrayed better and my professional answer is always: Only if you are dedicated to it and really believe in it.

Besides divine blessings, we merit many business realizations from giving to charity. In former President Bill Clinton’s book, “Giving,” he speaks of an African tribe he encountered as a result of his Clinton Foundation that had a unique way of greeting each other. When someone says, “Hello,” the other person responds with, “I see you.” It’s a powerful message in a world where differences are usually quite visible. Clinton testifies to his amazement with the amount of individuals and business alike that share so many causes and are actively contributing to organizations, NGOs, and charities.

To “win” at corporate responsibility it requires tremendous dedication. Celebrities who walk around hospitals once, attend fundraising events for NGOs or make a public donation without sincerity can often be seen, with good reason, as insincere. I don’t rule out the possibility that some turn donations and giving into a strategic business approach, but it shouldn’t undermine the rest of the individuals, businesses and even corporations who are devoted to a goal larger than their own sales and profits.

I was raised in a home where giving wasn’t an option; it was a requirement. Whether it was money, time, attention, or thoughts it was an expectation in my mother’s household.  For me, those acts are a part of a holy, higher value and all people should give, regardless of how much or how little they have. The almighty rests his blessing on those who give.

Charitable donations raise a company (and individual’s) image and improve self-awareness. Helping and giving makes you feel good. It allows organizations (and people) to be balanced and focused, and lessens jealousy, allowing you to feel accomplished and focused on earning even more.

Yet another business benefit to donations is the amazing people you meet at non-profit organizations that you care about – you meet people who care about the same issues that you do and, as you develop a bond over time, you will naturally make life-long friends and beneficial business relationships. Some of these people are hardly accessible in the ‘real world,’ but very available when reached through a good cause.

Such people as you meet at these events can even evolve into your biggest clients, as they did for me. I am certainly not saying to join, or get involved in CSR, for business relationships: join if you believe in and want to help the cause. Expanding your business contacts is just a small perk from your contributions.

Here are some initiatives to consider:

Social Responsibility acts: Whether an individual or major corporation engages in corporate good. Your employees may identify with a list of causes and issues which you can expand upon. Match donations or offer time to pursue such causes. You can even allow corporations to be rallied as a team around a cause, which becomes useful for corporate morale.

NGOs and Dinners: Aside from the important goals you meet when attending a dinner and the objectives fulfilled by your contribution, you also get to meet very interesting people who share the notion that our common humanity is vital. That dinner is an opportunity to mingle, bond and make new connections. The cause is the basis for self-reflection, and the event is further encouragement to continue supporting the benefit that you attended.

Programs: This is where unique resources and their benefits can come to fruition.  Participate in programs where you can make a difference. PR firms, of course, can assist in media work, restaurants, shelters, and the like.  Promote the cause  in the same way that you would help a loved one.

There are many ways and means to give. The initial act is the most important and ultimate fulfillment that you will gain, and remember that it is never too late to start – just do it. Give the money away; the blessings of every kind will be returned to you in many multiples.  That’s a personal and Public Relations guarantee.

 

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.