The Real Meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Categories:

    Community, Inspiration

  • Date:

    December 2, 2021

The Real Meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility

Community Inspiration

When some people talk about their company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, they use phrases like “being a good corporate citizen.” Such language reflects a semi-detached perspective born out of the reality that most CSR programs are really all about the money donated or the value of volunteer time.

No slam on giving money (yea!) or volunteering (bravo!), but this limited perspective is unfortunate because it means missing the best part: the lasting change the right program can create for a company, its culture, its people and their neighbors.

Maybe the name, “corporate social responsibility,” is part of the problem. When companies view their program through the lens of “responsibility” — when they give back because they feel like they have to — their well-meaning actions can easily become diminished until they’re just tasks on yet another company to-do list.

How Wray Ward Uses Its Gifts for Good

At Wray Ward, we view CSR differently. Because for us, it’s less about “corporate social responsibility” than “cultural soul replenishment.” Whether we’re lending our creative talents to pro bono projects, donating through corporate giving or volunteering our time, we’re always searching for ways to make a difference.

These activities and the agency’s service-grant program, EmpoWWer, do more than serve our community — they give us as much as they give back.

What is EmpoWWer?

Through EmpoWWer, a multidisciplinary team of committed employees gets involved and does what Wray Ward does best. We engage with our client/neighbor, their needs and goals. We dive into their situation, creating better performing solutions not for them but with them.

Wray Ward established EmpoWWer in 2018, awarding the first service grants for support in 2019, to formalize our long-standing commitment to serving others. Since then, we’ve worked with 11 Charlotte-area 501(c)(3) organizations on programs ranging from rebranding and marketing planning to website content and paid media campaigns. We’ve been thrilled with the response and love hearing glowing reports from our partners, such as the following:

“Oftentimes, when you receive a reward or grant, it is someone funding your efforts and individual passions within your organization. What Wray Ward and the EmpoWWer program are offering is a collaboration that you often do not get with grantors. You don't feel alone. You feel truly listened to, and we felt like we had a partner in this process. We felt like someone was guiding us and also encouraging us to really expand our thinking and get brave about an exciting new change. We didn’t just receive the reward; we received a new friend in our community and that’s been such a heartwarming gift for any nonprofit. We’re so thankful.”

– Kelly Finley, Founder and Executive Director, Girls Rock Charlotte

“Our biggest challenge right now is to change the perception of Charlotte Bilingual Preschool from a tiny, local school serving only a handful of children to a strong, organized voice in the early education field. We asked Wray Ward to develop both the language needed for funding opportunities and a graphic identity that reflects our values and our ambition. Wray Ward has been instrumental in helping us define our mission and transforming the organization from the inside out."

– Banu Valladares, Executive Director, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool

Our EmpoWWer partners all have at least one thing in common: They’re building something special in the community we share. And on that note, we couldn’t be prouder to play a small role in helping them change the world.

But deep down, really and truly, this CSR program is also a big part of feeding our folks’ stores of inner creativity while fostering and replenishing our unique Wray Ward culture. Just as it’s good for the community organizations we serve, EmpoWWer is good for our spirits and the soul of our company.

Viewed in that light, corporate social responsibility doesn’t feel like a responsibility at all.

Do you work with a community organization that you believe may be a good fit for EmpoWWer? This competitive program is designed for nonprofit organizations holding 501(c)(3) status for two or more years. The annual application window for 2022 is open now through December 31, 2021. Learn more and apply.

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