Corporate Social Responsibility comes of age

July 16, 2015

Is crowdfunding part of this new-age Corporate Social Responsibility?
Image courtesy of Rocío Lara at

On a cold and dreary Monday morning we found ourselves talking about the ‘doom and gloom’ stories common to many recent news broadcasts. In particular, the proportion of our national response to two issues – terrorism and domestic violence – provoked the discussion. This conversation was far from the best for conquering Mondayitis but nevertheless, a pertinent one.

It seems that the number of people killed as a result of domestic violence incidents far exceeds those that fall victim to acts of terrorism. Both issues have garnered media attention after significant events over the past 18 months, and in both cases the public and policy-makers have responded. It is clear that both topics activate our most vulnerable emotions, as the government’s chosen solutions have been hotly debated. Without seeking to interpret government policy, it seems that measures to prevent terror, radicalisation and foreign fighters have received greater financial and political resources. Whether the government should take a more utilitarian approach or not is a matter for one’s own moral compass and political philosophy, but suppose you believe that more must be done to prevent the unconscionable number of fatalities that result from domestic violence, irrespective of the actions taken at any level of government… What can we do as a society to put this belief into action? It is, after all, a social problem that may in fact be best addressed as a matter of civic responsibility.

Enter: a new model of corporate social responsibility, now with fifty per cent more activism.

Many American brands "went rainbow" after the US Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage

We have noticed corporations taking proactive and public positions on social issues, particularly on the marriage equality debate. Of course most recently there was the list of American organisations that went rainbow after the US Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalised same sex marriage. On home soil, and prior to landmark decisions in Ireland and the US, 53 Australian companies posted a double-page spread trumpeting their support for marriage equality. Is this a new mode for brands to prompt engagement with their conscience-driven consumers? Is it a result of political malaise? Or is it the latest way to gain an advantage in an intensely competitive market?

Another wave of neo-altruism utilises the online crowd-funding model to modernise traditional fundraising, requiring a sleek, compelling pitch and a focus on outcomes by the individuals or organisations bidding for donations. The latest piece of publicity for crowd-funding came from a proposal to repay Greece’s debt to the EU and IMF using this model, a suggestion that would change the interface between citizens and government finance.

Screenshot taken from IndieGoGo at

The developing arena of corporate social responsibility and corporate cause advocacy, on top of tools like crowd-funding, generate inspiration to explore how endemic social problems could be addressed swiftly. Achieving a positive impact of this nature requires organisations to have a clear understanding of their consumers and the cultural context in which they operate. The result could improve the way that social change occurs, negating the need to outsource compassion to bureaucratic institutions or have it determined by them.

Corporate Social Responsibility is now more than organisations nodding in the direction of social good, it has become an opportunity to respond meaningfully to consumers by championing a progressive vision for society. 

On our societal response to domestic violence – there are few organisations that have taken up the baton to address this pervasive issue. There is space to build social purpose and a reputation for compassion by getting behind this cause, and creating an emotional cache for consumers in taking a stand on a grievous global issue.

Ben M

Ben is one of our bright young sparks currently doing an internship at The Lab.