Another month another ferocious period of change and in India's CSR landscape. Here are some of the top stories for the month...
/ Making CSR work
In a time when most companies are jumping on the CSR bandwagon, how can companies ensure that their CSR programme is effective? What works and what doesn't? This Business Standard article explores through real life examples what approaches are effective. A good reiteration of the balancing act that companies need to achieve to make their CSR programmes as impactful as possible.
/ PSU banks - combined CSR?
Modi has suggested public sector banks to pool their resources and collectively undertake a single CSR project. Potentially a great idea to pool huge resources into a single cause, but how do you get multiple organisations with multiple subsidiaries (and let’s not forget multiple CSR committees!) all on the same page backing the same programme? It’s a challenge that might turn out to be just too difficult.
/ The rise of crowd-based CSR platforms
As CSR becomes mandatory and hopefully more common across India, we’re seeing a rise of crowd-based CSR and NGO support platforms. One such startup is Power For One, which enables companies to create a win-win situation by simultaneously promoting their CSR support whilst garnering more support for their partner NGOs from their own consumer base. But it’s very easy to be misguided in this area too, lots of bright young things are seeing potential in the CSR “market”, if you could call it that, and filling the gap with apps and platforms theat may not turn out to be necessary or useful in the grander scheme of things. We fear this Kochi-based startup might fall into that category.
/ Soon, a platform by Ministry of Corporate Affairs to track CSR spending
The MCA is in the planning stages of launching a data analytics platform to monitor the CSR spending of companies. We found a circular on the MCA website stating the formation of the committee, its members and core responsibilities. A report from this committee is expected within 6 months after its first meeting. Although a standardised system of tracking CSR spend and monitoring of CSR activities is a good step forward to bring transparency and accountability, it remains to be seen whether the MCA has really got the resources to back it up, or whether a system like this will ever be able to ensure against corruption or fraudulent claims.
/ Employee volunteering to count as CSR spend?
The Government is considering including employees’ volunteering as a part of a company’s CSR spend. More than just helping partner organisations, employee volunteering serves to instiutionalise the idea of CSR and community investment within a business so it’s definitely worth supporting companies who incorporate this into their CSR planning. However, it could also be the simplest way for less-transparent companies to artificially their CSR burden by over-claiming the number of volunteer hours. This article in HT discusses some of the issues in evaluating pro-bono work.
/ CSR priorities in 2015
In our December round-up, we published a study done by responsiblefuture.in on the leading companies in the Indian CSR space. Here is a follow up on that by the same website discussing the emerging trends in the space for the year 2015. The article rightly talks about the emergence of manufacturing companies as CSR champions after the ‘Make in India’ push by the current government. It reiterates what we and others in the CSR space have been saying – CSR is an essential part of business strategy of a company. The article also touches on the importance of finding CSR managers who are insightful and can adapt to the changing needs and trends in the space.