Corporate Social Responsibility
Companies need to change their mindset and explore customer social responsibility
IMAGINE if every time you pay a parking fine, a child gets fed. Or when you pay for an excess baggage fee, 10 trees are planted.
It is by telling such “stories” that companies can show customers how they are making a difference with their contributions, said Australian social entrepreneur Paul Dunn.
However, most companies now tend to produce reports on corporate social responsibility (CSR) which are just too boring for customers to read, he added.
Instead of just plain CSR, businesses also need to explore social responsibility, said Mr. Dunn, co-founder of social enterprise Buy1GIVE1 (B1G1), which is based in Singapore.
This involves a change in mindset. Instead of simply telling customers that 10 per cent of an organisation’s profits go to charity, the organisation should tell the customer how his or her spending could help someone in need.
What does the company gain? The customer becomes more intimately involved in the experience of giving and he or she will be encouraged to patronize the business, said Mr. Dunn, who was here recently for the Asian Forum on CSR.
In the United Kingdom, for instance, customers now know that when they purchase a pair of school trousers at supermarket chain TESCO, a child in Kenya gets a school uniform.
Mr. Dunn’s B1G1, which was established in Australia early last year, focuses on transaction-based giving worldwide. It allows businesses to choose and contribute to a cause listed on it’s website, and for every item or service the business sells, 100 per cent of the pledged amount goes to the worthy cause.
In Singapore, Mr. Dunn said he would like to focus on getting businesses and even Government agencies to sign up with the B1G1 community. It now has about 120 companies signed on worldwide, with some 500 causes listed on its website.
Many credit card promotions state “buy 1 get 1 free”, said Mr. Dunn, so why not “buy 1 give 1”?
“The moment you start talking about giving, it’s very resonant. It is actually part of our human nature to do that,” said Mr. Dunn. “What would happen if just by buying a MRT ticket, someone in need gets a meal?”
“WIZARD OF WOW”
Peppering his sentences with “imagine if”, “I have a dream” and “what if”, Mr. Dunn’s ability to dream and create, and then contribute meaningfully won him the inaugural Extraordinary Lives Award last year from XL Results Foundation, the world’s largest entrepreneurial organization.
When he was in his 20s, Mr. Dunn stood out as one of the first 10 people in Australia to join Hewlett Packard. He was also the founder of the consulting firm Results Corporation.
After retiring in 2000, Mr. Dunn was told by a mentor “all of us are going to leave a legacy – but will it be a legacy of consumption or contribution?” He finally understood the meaning of contribution when he funded an orphanage for tsunami-affected children in India in 2006. This led to his co-discovery of B1G1.
Often called “the wizard of wow” for his many achievements and exuberant personality, Mr. Dunn 65, takes pleasure in the simple things in life.
“You’ve got to be grateful for everything. The fact that we can move our mouth and words come out, that’s wow. Life is generally fun and I think there’s magic… One of the things I always talk about, it’s the little things that make profound differences,” he said Mr. Dunn stresses the importance of having a positive attitude even during this financial crisis.
“Positive breeds positive, negative breeds negative. And maybe an attitude of gratitude is what we need.”
The grandfather of nine is considering putting his energy into some “projects in India”.
Relating his experience in caring for his 100-year-old mother who is down with Alzheimer’s disease, Mr. Dunn said: “It is no longer possible for us to communicate head to head, the only way to communicate is heart to heart”.
“In business, so many people are communicating with their staff and customers head to head”.
“We’ve really got to connect with everyone’s hearts,” he said. “ When I show you an iPhone, for example, you’ll go ‘wow!’ in a heartbeat. Wow is from the heart, not the head”.
“People get truly moved only when we connect at that level and we build a real and trusted connection.”