CSR is good PR: charity partnerships increase consumer loyalty, finds Forster

Nearly two in three consumers say they feel businesses should work more with charities to tackle social and environmental issues, and just under half say they would be more likely to buy products from a firm that endorses a charity.

Astellas Pharma CEO Ken Jones meets a fistula survivor as part of the company's Action on Fistula programme in cooperation with the Fistula Foundation

This is according to the inaugural Business to Society Survey of 2,000 consumers by social change comms agency Forster Communications.

It suggests that businesses could work with charities to better engage consumers, and younger generations in particular, as 64 per cent of survey respondents said they felt businesses should work more with charities to tackle social and environmental issues. However, this rises to 75 per cent of those aged 18-34, but drops to 52 per cent among those aged over 65.

Examples of successful partnerships include Tesco's work with Diabetes UK, the Football Association working with Breast Cancer Care and Boots' collaboration with Macmillan, Forster says.

That belief that business should collaborate with the third sector extends to consumer behaviour, the survey found. It showed 62 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 would be more likely to buy a product as a result of a partnership between a company they trusted and a charity, compared with 48 per cent of all respondents.

As part of the same report, Forster also surveyed 700 business leaders, among whom 57 per cent agreed they should be doing more to tackle the social issues faced by society.

Forster chief executive Amanda Powell Smith CEO commented: "These findings should provide a wake-up call for those businesses who still do not think it is their place to help tackle social and environmental issues. Businesses who engage on causes, starting from their own employees through to their suppliers and customers, become better businesses, simple as that."

Forster itself has recently been accredited as a B Corporation – a voluntary certification for companies meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance.

B Lab UK – the charity handling B Corporation activity in the UK – officially launches later this month and is hoping to have 50 business on board at launch. There are already 1,350 companies signed up to the concept, which was started in the US.

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