Studies show that in 2020, the number of people living below the poverty line in the United States was about 37.25 million. This is a big number—one that represents more than 10 percent of the nation’s overall population. Regardless of where your company’s headquarters is located, it’s likely you won’t be hard-pressed to find neighborhoods with families struggling financially.
If you are thinking of serving low-income communities through your company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR), here are some ideas you can explore.
Educate your team
The first step to providing effective help is to ensure that the CSR team in charge of the project is adequately educated on the people they’re trying to help. They need to have a thorough understanding of the systematic and institutional problems that cause poverty and homelessness in the first place so that they can offer long-term solutions. Here are some pointers for ensuring that your team is properly armed with the correct information about the community you’re trying to help:
- Invite an expert to lead training or seminar about the subject.
- Build a relationship with the leaders of the community you’re trying to help. Hear them out and ask them what kind of help they need instead of just barging in with solutions they never asked for.
- Bring your team on the field. Immerse them in the realities of the people struggling so that they can get a picture of it, even if they have never experienced it themselves.
Remember that you and your team are not doing this to be the saviors of this community. Instill sincerity in everyone in your team to ensure that you provide your beneficiaries with the dignity and humanity they deserve
Extend compassionate help and support to addicts and alcoholics
Studies found that people of lower economic status are more likely to suffer from substance abuse. In addition, research shows that it’s harder for people to recover from their addiction problems if they’re financially hard-up. If you want to help this sector of people in low-income communities, consider doing the following:
- You can partner with reputable facilities to provide addicts with helpful resources. You can launch a program that will help connect them with various kinds of tried-and-tested drug recovery programs.
- You can help raise funds for those who do not have the financial resources to check themselves into a facility.
- You can build connections with mental health professionals and have them volunteer their time to help affected people in the community.
Provide practical help to those experiencing homelessness
In 2020, about 580,000 people were going through homelessness in the United States. They live in every territory and state, with 70 percent of them being individuals and the rest of them being families. Children and young people are priorities because they are much more vulnerable. If you want to help people experiencing homelessness through your company’s CSR, here are some ideas you can explore with your team:
- Advocate for them by speaking with policymakers. You can start a campaign to help end homelessness not just on a state level but also on a national level.
- You can set up a center where those experiencing homelessness can get some free warm meals. The center can also be a place where they can sleep and grab some free outerwear to keep themselves warm during colder seasons.
- Explore the possibility of linking them to affordable housing. If your company is in the real estate industry, consider providing them with high-quality but affordable rental spaces.
Make education a priority
While completely eradicating poverty needs many moving parts and the participation of governments all over the world, one fundamental way to end it is access to high-quality primary education for everybody. If there are out-of-school youths in the neighborhood you are looking to help, consider launching a scholarship program for those who want to go back to school but don’t have the financial resources to do so.
You can also help those already in school but need help with their day-to-day expenses and school supplies. Children want and need to study, but not everyone has equal opportunity and privilege to do so. Stand in the gap for these children and help level the playing field a little.
Because of the public health crisis, consumers have a growing sentiment to support companies that place people above profit. This may not seem realistic for businesses, especially for smaller ones who are just trying to survive the pandemic, but it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Your company might grow in reputation by doing good for others. Bolster your CSR and let it draw more consumers to your brand, but do it primarily to help those who need it the most. Let the former be a much-needed bonus.