When companies think of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to boost their reputation and do good for their community, they often think of initiatives centered around the environment, charitable giving, and community volunteering. While these three things are needed and have a place in the world of CSR, many companies also need to look into helping underserved members of the community gain an education. Here are some benefits to launching and managing a scholarship program as a CSR activity:
- It empowers education as a long-term solution to poverty and inequality. It may sound basic, but what we’re after is teaching men how to fish and not just giving them fish that can last them for a few days. Donating a certain amount to a cause or impoverished communities might help them in the short term. However, it ultimately won’t provide them with long-term solutions in terms of finding employment or building a life. A scholarship program addresses that need.
- A scholarship program can be easily customized according to your organization’s mission, vision, and resources.
- It builds trust among your target demographic, especially if your company is located in an area with low-income communities around it.
There are plenty of benefits to launching and managing a scholarship program for your company’s CSR. Here are some pointers to get you started and how you can sustain it.
Establish a firm foundation for the program or fund
Everything rises and falls on the planning stage of your initiative. Here are some things you need to take into consideration when planning for the program:
- Determine your recipients. Are you after adults who never finished high school or go to college and are looking to find a second chance at life, or do you want to help young students from low-income families who need help with their tuition fees and day-to-day expenses? Market research and analysis will be helpful since you would know who in your immediate community needs the help the most.
- Once you identify your recipients, you need to decide to what capacity you want to provide help. Do you want to help struggling professionals whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic? For example, you can help them with their continuing education courses that cover plumbing and electricity so that they can renew their licenses without worrying about the expenses. Do you want to help send them people to college? Your recipients and goals will determine your next steps for the program.
- Decide on how you will fund the program. Will you take donations from wealthier patrons through fundraising? Proper financial structuring and planning are necessary to create a framework for managing more crucial considerations down the line. This framework will also help your CSR team come up with feasible processes and timetables.
Create realistic timelines
Planning and funding can often take the longest when it comes to launching any project, so you need to ensure that you and your team set a due date for when the scholarship fund will be live. There are optimal times for this to occur; you need to consider when taxation will hit—like the fiscal year.
You also have to remember that students will have to apply for the fund, so you would also need to establish how the application process will go. Do they need to send a printed application, go to your place of work in person, or will digital application software be enough? Consider that you would need to promote and get the word out about the scholarship fund, too, if you want people to have enough time to send in their applications.
Determine who will make decisions
Once the applications start pouring in, you will need to have a review committee of some kind to determine which students you will award the scholarship to. The members of this committee can be your employees or volunteers—just make sure you choose ones who value education and have a knack for seeing talent and potential in people.
Make a day out of the awarding ceremony
CSR is all about doing good for others, but it’s also about boosting your company’s reputation in the community. Consider throwing a special event for the awarding ceremony so that your scholars can be honored in public and make noise about your initiative online and in the press.
Education is one of the keys to eradicating poverty. Consider making it a cornerstone of your company’s CSR, and start in your immediate community and sphere of influence. It’s well worth the effort.