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NGO Fundraising Prospects from Corporate Donors

Md. Humayun Kabir

In Bangladesh, corporate donors play a significant role in supporting NGO fundraising efforts. Corporate donors prioritize meeting CSR obligations to improve their image and create growth opportunities. They allocate profits for social, environmental, and economic initiatives.

Meaning of CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the corporate sector’s commitment to addressing socio-economic issues. It is not just about compliance with regulations, but also about being ethically and socially responsible. CSR involves working towards sustainable development and meeting the needs of current and future generations. It includes concepts like corporate sustainability, accountability, and citizenship. Today, CSR goes beyond philanthropy to focus on companies taking responsibility for their actions. By integrating CSR into their strategies, businesses can achieve a balance between economic and social goals, benefiting all stakeholders.

CSR in Global Context

Throughout history, businesses have had roles beyond just making money. In England, corporations were created to achieve societal objectives like exploration and transportation. In the United States, corporations focused on shareholder responsibilities in the 19th century. Public policy addressed worker health and safety, consumer protection, labor practices, and environmental protection. CSR became a topic of discussion in the mid-20th century, with economist Milton Friedman highlighting the importance of profits within societal boundaries. Today, CSR is a key concern in business, marketing, and accounting globally. Consumers now pay attention to a company’s social behavior, affecting their purchasing decisions. Responsible businesses are more attractive to employees, aiding in recruitment, retention, and performance. Trust is crucial for a company’s reputation, influencing how it is viewed by employees, customers, suppliers, and the community.

CSR in Bangladesh Context

CSR concepts and practices in Bangladesh have a long history, with businesses engaging in philanthropic activities like donations but lacking a clear policy for charitable efforts. Family-owned businesses often focus on profit without considering social and environmental impacts. Small and medium-sized enterprises in the informal sector struggle to address these issues due to limited resources and management structures. Despite this focus on profit, the importance of CSR is gradually being recognized, especially in the export sector where global standards are crucial. However, labor rights, environmental management, and transparency remain inadequate, influenced by weak enforcement of laws and limited pressure from civil society. Embracing CSR is essential for improving governance, labor rights, workplace safety, community development, environmental practices, and accessing global markets. Bangladesh’s CSR implementation is guided by US and EU buyer standards, particularly in the garment industry, but some exporters face challenges in demonstrating their commitment to CSR.

CSR Implications on Corporate Sector

Dearth of expertise and poor accountability has been identified as obstacles to practicing CSR in Bangladesh. Many CSR activities in the country are focused on publicity and short-term gains. The private sector enterprises need to embrace CSR to strengthen them. However, Bangladeshi companies are lagging behind their counterparts in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in terms of corporate governance. Properly implemented CSR programs benefit multiple stakeholders, while poorly implemented ones are merely PR exercises.

CSR impact on Community Development

CSR in Bangladesh can contribute to community development through employment creation, primary education, road and infrastructure development, and addressing environmental concerns. This is especially relevant in Bangladesh, where government interventions can be augmented by corporate alliances to develop the economy, society, and environment, and provide support for relief and rehabilitation efforts following disasters. The recent COVID 19 response exemplifies the active participation of business houses in aiding affected individuals.

Trend of CSR Practices in Bangladesh

Many businesses have CSR practices, but few truly understand its meaning beyond compliance and staff well-being. Some companies have expanded their CSR activities to contribute to socio-economic aspects, human rights, and entitlements. Key areas of CSR practice include social benefits, emergency response, crisis management, education, environment, human rights, and health. In the health sector, establishing hospitals, medical colleges, and supporting health awareness programs are of medium priority.

Prospects of CSR in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a developing country striving to implement CSR practices and standards. However, challenges persist in properly implementing CSR. The publication “Good Governance and Market-Based Reforms” highlights the importance of good governance indicators such as regulatory quality and control of corruption in ensuring the success and sustainability of reforms, ultimately enhancing business ethics and CSR in Bangladesh.

Corporate Governance and CSR in Bangladesh

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is when companies use their resources to benefit society without expecting direct rewards. Bangladesh struggles with weak governance, resulting in poor business ethics and limited CSR practices. The private sector prioritizes short-term profits over responsible conduct and consumer trust, often resorting to unethical practices like selling adulterated products and hoarding for unfair gains. This lack of social responsibility requires government intervention, but the government lacks the capacity and will to enforce compliance effectively, weakening CSR incentives. Moreover, private sector entrepreneurs lack the expertise and efficiency needed to succeed in a competitive market. Although the government acknowledges the importance of education, it is not widely implemented, hindering NGOs’ efforts to promote ethical practices and CSR.

Corporate Motivational Factors on CSR

Social responsibility, also known as CSR, is crucial for companies to stay competitive and meet ethical standards. It is not just a passing trend, but a necessity for effective operations and fulfilling a social mission. Benefits of CSR include attracting and retaining employees, reducing costs, increasing revenues, and enhancing reputation. Embracing CSR involves managing social and environmental impacts alongside economic performance, benefiting sales, workforce, and trust. Areas affecting business outcomes include purpose, values, workforce, marketplace, environment, community, human rights, and guiding principles. Balancing competing demands while delivering benefits to both business and society is important. CSR involves maintaining positive relations with customers and improving impact on society and the environment. Increasing pressure for social responsibility ranks as a top business challenge, highlighting its importance. Globalization and new challenges have expanded concepts like CSR, corporate citizenship, and corporate sustainability, now crucial to various stakeholders. Recommendations include awareness, compliance with international standards, increased visibility and understanding, and corporate partnerships for social development.

NGOs in Bangladesh can boost their donations from corporate donors by analyzing the market and forging strategic partnerships.

The article was written by Md. Humayun Kabir, an Independent Consultant, and Director, Creative Services Limited. Email: humayun@cslbd71.com

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