Crowdsourcing in CSR: An opportunity to Innovate and Re-invent?

Crowdsourcing is the new buzz word for businesses looking to co- create ideas, deeper engagement and meaningful resources for a specific purpose or a cause.  It is an effective method of mobilizing crowd though internet, typically to come up with new ideas, strategies, or resources. With an active user base of more than 363 crores people in the world, crowdsourcing is a more time and access effective tool. Not to forget the availability of platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that can be used in crowdsourcing to help companies to turn social connectivity to social productivity.

In India, companies are effectively using crowdsourcing to build powerful CSR and brand stories. Social activism has spread its root through internet activism and the need to reinvent more socially sensitive business practices has grown manifold. Consumer behaviour patterns also reflect a clear inclination towards more responsible brands. Re-inventing and innovating CSR practices, therefore,  plays a major role and crowdsourcing within CSR can prove to be useful since it combines both aspects  social media and social responsibility.

Applying crowdsourcing to CSR is not very difficult if the companies are willing to innovate and experiment with their strategies. Companies are recognizing the power of social media and its impact on responsible businesses. It is difficult to miss the positive impact of good CSR and social media campaigns.   In 2011, the Weber Shandwick Social Impact Survey reflected the idea that crowdsourcing was valuable for CSR efforts. The survey highlighted how most companies used crowdsourcing to generate ideas to get help in decision-making to ‘tackle issues and achieve goals.’ Executives from the companies also shared how they used the platform to disseminate information regarding their companies and their CSR efforts with stakeholders. Though there can be several reasons why companies should use crowdsourcing in CSR, my top 3 reasons for the same are:

  1. Stakeholder engagement and transparency: Both stakeholder engagement and transparency are vital factors in conducting responsible business. Crowdsourcing creates a perfect platform for synergies of these two factors. It facilitates stakeholder participation, collaboration and helps in co creating ideas, opportunities, initiatives, strategies, and systems. Such an interaction between the company and its stakeholders also validates the company’s transparency efforts as well as it helps in developing a deeper trust in the brand.
  1. Cost Efficiency and Innovation: In most cases, companies who adopt crowdsourcing for an activity or purpose, tend to attract wider and more innovative pool of ideas, be it a new initiative or a new campaign. A wider pool of ideas gives the company more imaginative insights, options to innovate and options to broaden their horizons and amplify impact.

 

  1. Branding and advocacy: As iterated earlier, crowdsourcing acts as a great platform for creative interactions. Several companies are using popular tools to leverage such interactions such as advertising and polling through applications, nominations, or feedbacks through Facebook likes or pages on Instagram, Twitter. Such interactions are also becoming platforms where stakeholders are acting as brand advocates and helping companies in spreading good stories and image to the people.

Currently, crowdfunding (a type of crowdsourcing) is also becoming a very lucrative idea for budding entrepreneurs and companies. Several crowdfunding platforms are helping young entrepreneurs and CSR initiatives to raise resources for their work. Crowdsourcing, in general, can enable companies to re-invent conventional processes or generate new ones in a responsible and democratic way. No matter the type or method of engagement, crowdsourcing definitely is adding positive ripples in the pool of social impact.

 

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