Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is also referred to as corporate conscience, corporate citizenship, social performance, or sustainable responsible business. The goal of CSR is to embrace responsibility for a company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities.

CSR is meant to aid an organization’s mission as well as a guide to what the company stands for and will uphold to its consumers.

Corporate philanthropy is many times mistaken for corporate responsibility. But it is not the same, or to be more accurate, it is just one dimension of CSR, and frankly not the one we should be concentrating on when we talk and debate about the social responsibility of business.

To figure out what CSR means and why it doesn’t equal philanthropy, we can use the classifications Prof. Geoffrey P. Lantos presents in his paper, The Ethicality of Altruistic Corporate Social Responsibility. Lantos offers three different types of CSR:

1. Ethical CSR: Morally mandatory fulfillment of a firm’s economic responsibilities, legal responsibilities, and ethical responsibilities.

2. Altruistic CSR: Fulfillment of an organization’s philanthropic responsibilities, going beyond preventing possible harms (ethical CSR) to helping alleviate public welfare deficiencies, regardless of whether or not this will benefit the business itself.

3. Strategic CSR: Caring corporate community service activities that accomplish strategic business goals.