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  • Katie Cabanas, Founder

Creating Corporate Social Responsibility Programs: A Guide to Simply Getting Started

What seems complicated can often be easier than you think.

For Cabanas Consulting clients, creating a “corporate social responsibility” program -- in a way that is authentic and meaningful -- can seem complicated. For others, facilitating a philanthropic collaboration with their corporate partners -- in a way that is beneficial for both -- can seem complicated.

It’s not.

In fact, as more businesses examine ways to connect with their customers through impactful philanthropy, more people are talking about it. A study conducted by Cone Communications on corporate social responsibility found that 87 percent of consumers would purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about, and 76 percent would refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.

Cabanas Consulting has developed a proven but simple process for the creation, execution and monitoring of corporate social responsibility programs, which is executed in three steps:

Pinpoint what matters to your company. One Cabanas Consulting client managed several residential communities of various sizes, so its corporate culture was built upon improving residents’ quality of life. As an extension of providing quality housing, we recommended that they demonstrate their social responsibility by creating programs to positively impact and increase resident wellness; in turn, increasing their engagement as members of the apartment community.

Through scalability, each community created a program that fit the size and capability of its resources, but all of the programs would operate under the same corporate umbrella.

For example, smaller communities could hold intimate Read A Thons, while larger communities could welcome a local dentist to hold seminars on the importance of oral hygiene. At the heart of it was building a “sense of place and kinship” that fit seamlessly with their larger, corporate mission.

Review your existing relationships to deepen and strengthen what already exists: When I worked for the University of Miami (UM), the institution had a wonderful relationship with the local corporate leaders of Coca-Cola, but needed to find a way to involve them in the billion-dollar Momentum2 campaign. UM’s Momentum2: Breakthrough to Giving campaign touched all aspects of the campus with fundraising goals set for new construction, scholarships, program expansions, endowments and professorships.

UM had a long-standing relationship with Coca-Cola, from philanthropic support to serving Coca-Cola products throughout campus. When the campaign was in the planning stages, we talked about how we could highlight that partnership. At the time, Coca-Cola supported the university through their existing advertising buys, worth thousands of dollars. The result: a co-branding opportunity for both Coca-Cola and UM. For Coca-Cola, it was an inventive way to further their investment with the university; and for the university, it was a chance to spread its campaign launch news even further.

Start small. Simply put, beginning with a smaller scope is more manageable. Cabanas Consulting clients are encouraged to start small with a new program that is achievable, measurable and integrated into the fabric of their culture. Afterwards, measurement of the program is key for even a modest campaign.

Can’t support a full-scale, beach clean up? Invest in company-branded, reusable water bottles to reduce waste. Can’t fund a scholarship program? Invest in a mentoring-internship program to help build a young person’s resume. Can’t give dollars to a nonprofit? Donate in-kind hours to a project an organization needs completed. Remember, once the initial program is completed, assess its effectiveness before launching another round of programming.

See how easy that is? If you need assistance with identifying ways your company or nonprofit can create or leverage its corporate social responsibility efforts, let’s talk. Call me at 305.322.9272 or email

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