What makes a CSR project successful?

HelpYourNGO’s webinar on ‘Introduction to CSR’ by CA Winnie Dholakia and CA Nishant Parekh aimed to clear the clutter on the topic of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Nishant Parekh, Head – Research and Advisory Services at HelpYourNGO draws on his experience guiding corporates and NGOs on their CSR projects and shares some tips to make CSR projects more effective.

You can watch the entire webinar on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr1wCnwVOl4

What are the elements of a successful CSR project?

  • Planning: As the adage goes, a minute spent in planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution. Planning is an important part of any CSR project strategy as it gives all stakeholders an overview of every element of the project. CSR projects are generally long-term in nature and may take between three to five years for complete implementation and creating an impact on the targeted communities. Therefore, the project should be broken down into short-term, measurable, achievable goals. This activity should take place in the planning stage itself.
  • Implementation & Exit Strategies: An implementation strategy helps the organization execute the plan as per the design. It takes on board the available resources – time, money, people etc. and maps them in relation to the goals to be achieved. It’s also essential to have an exit strategy in place such that the targeted community continues to enjoy the benefits of the project even after support is withdrawn.
  • Transparency: Transparency is crucial in the social sector as there is often trust deficit on the part of donors and communities. It’s important to have clear and timely communication on the goals and progress of the project.
  • Community Ownership: Community ownership is an important feature of the success of any CSR project. When community members are aligned with the goals of the project, there are higher chances of the project sustaining even after the implementing partners or donors withdraw. For example, one of our NGO partners, AKAHI implemented a project to make Shiwli village in Maharashtra 100% Open Defecation Free. They ensured that the community took ownership of the key project activities like community mobilization, hygiene promotion, maintenance of sanitation units and even provision of labour. They used Information, Education and Communication (IEC) and Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) to ensure creation of demand for the sanitation units that were being constructed. This ensured not just greater adoption and use but also maintenance of the toilets even after project completion.
  • Sustainability Plan: A donor is not going to fund any project in perpetuity and thus it’s important to bear in mind the sustainability plan of the project. AKAHI’s project mentioned above included follow-up visits to the households two years later to assess whether respondents were regularly using their sanitation facilities. Sustainability may seem a far way off at the beginning of a project. However, it can help in effective planning at the beginning of the project and correct measurement after its completion.
  • Monitoring & Evaluation: Monitoring and evaluation gives us a sense of how the project has been executed and what has changed on the ground as a result of the project. It gives us an idea of how the project is unfolding and helps understand how effective that intervention has been. Monitoring and evaluation is an important source of data and feedback mechanism for any project.

HelpYourNGO offers CSR Consultancy Services to corporates to assist them in identifying credible NGO partners matching their unique giving criteria. We also assist NGOs in proposal writing and submission of quarterly reports. Kindly write to us on info@HelpYourNGO.com to know more.

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