SMEs often have ‘exemplary, but unrecorded’ CSR

ISME CEO Mark Fielding
ISME CEO Mark Fielding

Despite facing hard times, 92% of Irish SMEs continue to give voluntary financial contributions to charities and good causes



13 January 2014 | 0

ISME CEO Mark Fielding

ISME CEO Mark Fielding

ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association has released the results of its SMEs and CSR survey which assessed the level of SME contributions to charitable and local causes as part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities by Irish SMEs. The survey results found that, despite the current economic difficulties, 92% of Irish SMEs give voluntary financial contributions to charities and good causes.

According to ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, "The CSR activities of large businesses tend to be well-documented and publicised as part of their reputation building strategies. However, the CSR contributions of SMEs are usually informal and are considered to be a normal part of business life. In many cases, the business owner does not recognise the term CSR but believes that playing an active role in the community is their responsibility. When asked if their company participates in CSR they might answer ‘no’ or ‘don’t know’, without realising that their actions often amount to exemplary, but unrecorded, CSR. The informal nature of these activities makes them more difficult to record and quantify."

"The results outlined in our report show that Irish SMEs make a significant contribution to their local communities through financial, time and product donations. These contributions often go unnoticed and unacknowledged. They are appreciated only by their direct beneficiaries and while it is difficult to exactly quantify their economic value, the value of their contribution to local initiatives and organisations is immense."

The survey of over 1,100 SME respondents showed half of the respondents employ less than 10, while a further 40% employ between 11 and 50 and one in ten employ between 51 and 250.

The main findings of the survey are: 72% of Irish SME owners voluntarily give their time to support charitable and local organisations each year. What’s more, 45% of SMEs give ’employee time’ to charitable organisations on an annual basis.34% of respondents had a charity partner which it was committed to supporting on a long-term, year-on-year basis.7% of SMEs donate more than €5000 to charities or voluntary organisations every year.

‘In the Government’s National CSR Plan, promised in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 It must be emphasised that small business and their owners cannot be categorised as simply ‘bonsai’ versions of larger multinational businesses, when it comes to CSR issues. Therefore, separate and distinct programmes and initiatives should be envisaged and encouraged for SMEs, if only to ensure that the SME local involvement is not drowned out by the PR ‘roar’ of the larger firms.’

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