Gone are days when businesses only need to come up with high-quality products and reliable customer service.
A 2022 survey involving 420 participants revealed that 75% would continue doing business with companies that share similar views and values as they do. Around 70% also stated that they don’t care much about the price tag if the company gives back to the community and holds itself accountable. These participants added that companies should take a stand on important issues that affect the community.
But what happens if a company fails to support the causes the customers believe?
The same survey showed that more than 50% of them will stop buying the products or services of those businesses. That’s how vital it is for CBD brands to adopt social responsibility into their business model.
Known as CSR (corporate social responsibility), this management concept is practiced by the leading cannabis companies today. They are not doing it just for the headlines, though. As you will learn in this article, many of your favorite CBD brands have engaged in various CSR initiatives to create positive impacts and encourage others to do the same.
What is CSR?
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) promotes the strategy of fulfilling the expectations of the shareholders and stakeholders by balancing the company’s economic goals with social justice and environmental sustainability. It’s not a one-time project, like a medical aid or cleaning day at the beach.
Instead, the proper adoption of CSR into the company’s identity involves the commitment of every member of the organization. It requires the creation and implementation of programs that are essential and motivational.
The cannabis industry is rooted in social movements that allowed it to grow through a combination of venture capital and community support. The industry leaders recognize this, so they make an effort to act as positive examples and catalysts for social change in their respective communities and the causes they support.
Practicing CSR Benefits Everyone
Whether you’re a CBD business owner, employee, or customer, the CSR activities of a company may benefit you in one way or another.
According to the Harvard Business Review, a well-established CSR program can lower the risks associated with the business, improve the reputation of the company, increase its revenues, and strengthen customer loyalty.
If you’re an employee working for a company that practices CSR, you will get the opportunity to participate in or lead projects that will likely have more significant benefits than what you can do on your own.
On the other hand, customers will feel better about patronizing a business that supports the causes they believe in. If the CSR project allows customers to donate with every purchase, they can also contribute to initiatives that otherwise they will not have any access to.
The CSR Initiatives of Your Favorite CBD Brands
We have outlined below the different ways the leading CBD companies practice CSR.
CBDistillery’s Two-Pronged CSR Strategy
In a 2020 interview with Cannabis Law Report, CBDistillery CEO Chase Terwilliger described the dual approach his company takes to be a positive force in the community.
First, CBDistillery donates a part of its profits to certain causes and nonprofit organizations that need it the most. “We examine every month who we need to give back to, and we make it happen,” Terwilliger explained. For example, at the time of the interview, the company aimed to boost the educational fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
CBDistillery also takes part in the “Giving Tuesday” campaign organized by various nonprofit organizations. Last year, the brand committed a 25% discount for all hemp-derived products sold on their official website. They also donated 5% of the profits generated by the event to Project Sanctuary—a charity that aims to provide assistance to the at-risk families of US military personnel across the country. Their projects include:
- Organizing therapeutic retreats handled by licensed counselors and social workers for the members of the military and their families
- Extending financial support and mental health services for military veterans, active members, and their immediate families
- Implementing programs that will connect military families with the resources they need to find employment, plan their finances, and experience healing or recreation
The second approach of CBDistillery to becoming a socially responsible company is demonstrated through its focus on the quality and safety of its products. They heavily invest in clinical research and FDA programs related to hemp and its derivatives. In addition, CBDistillery coordinates with the FDA and experts on adverse reactions to fully understand the short-term and long-term effects of CBD on our health and wellness.
cbdMD’s Partnership with Athletes
Among its peers, cbdMD is one of the first companies to capitalize on the growing interest of athletes in CBD products. The company has established the so-called “Team cbdMD” to encourage more athletes to learn what cannabinoids can do for their health and athletic performance. The group consists of loud and proud cannabis users from different fields, including NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) champion Jimmy Johnson, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Fighter Jessica-Rose Clark, and CrossFit athletes Justin Medeiros and Brent Fikowsi.
From these partnerships, cbdMD comes across new channels for its advocacies. For example, in September 2019, the company hosted fundraising events for three different organizations:
- Sheckler Foundation – This foundation holds an annual golfing tournament to benefit the children and injured athletes in the US.
- Steve Smith Family Foundation – The foundation conducts athletic competitions to raise awareness and prevent domestic violence.
- Inspire the Fire – The nonprofit organization based in North Carolina promotes the development of students who aspire to have successful careers in the performing arts.
According to the company president Caryn Dunayer, the Team cbdMD athletes serve as direction-setters in their CSR initiatives. “They’re each well-known in their respective communities for giving back, and it’s one of the core reasons we initially became partners,” Dunayer shared.
Green Roads’ Investment for the Future of Florida
Green Roads is the largest privately-owned CBD company in the country. It is based in Florida but sources hemp from other states, such as Colorado, California, and Kentucky.
To give back to its home state, Green Roads collaborated with the University of Florida in their pilot study that aims to transform Florida into a sustainable producer of high-quality industrial hemp. The program started in 2018 with a $1.3 million donation from Green Roads. They also provided 50 hemp plants as a starting point for researchers in their quest to find the most suitable types of hemp to grow in the area.
Arby Barroso, one of the brand’s founders, said that this investment would not benefit only the company’s supply chain. “We’re looking to help commercialize the industry here, so that’s going to open up an avenue for farmers. It’s going to add economic growth. It’s going to add jobs.”
Joy Organics’ Special Birthday Celebration
In general, the CSR goal of Joy Organics is to “leave a better world for the next generation.” The strategies they developed to attain this involve operating an environmental-friendly business that has solid and respectful relationships with the customers and stakeholders, including its employees and suppliers.
Given how involved Joy Smith, the company founder, is in its operations and development, Joy Organics decided in 2019 to start hosting an annual event called “Joy Day.”
On the first Joy Day celebration, the company offered massive discounts on its premium CBD products and partnered with the Greater Hope Project. Because of the event, the company has earned enough profits to sponsor the meals of the children who go to Uganda’s Hope Primary School.
The Joy Day iteration last year was closer to home, though. Since the company is based in Colorado, the team opted to address the ongoing food shortage faced by several local families due to the global pandemic and subsequent economic challenges. This time, Joy Organics partnered with the Food Bank of the Rockies in supporting the community food stores.
Manitoba Harvest’s Accountability from Seed to Shelf
This Canadian company is all about sustainability—from the supply of their raw materials to customer satisfaction. As a testament to their commitment, Manitoba Harvest worked hard to obtain two high-level certifications: B-Corp Certification in 2014 and Carbon Neutral Certification in 2018.
To become a recognized B-Corp business, Manitoba Harvest cultivated an extensive network of US-based hemp growers who value quality and safety. Through this certification, the company has also proven to the stakeholders that it treats its employees well and gives back to the community.
For example, Manitoba Harvest signs up for the Christmas Cheer Board every year to sponsor the holiday hampers for some Winnepeg families. They have also partnered with the Hunger Mountain Co-op in Vermont to distribute groceries to the residents and seniors in the area.
Regarding environmental conservation, the B-Corp certification and the company’s carbon-neutral practices showcase how serious they are about protecting the planet. All Manitoba Harvest manufacturing facilities and offices are powered by wind energy to offset its emission of greenhouse gases.
That’s significant given that the company subjects its hemp-derived products to over 34 in-house tests before any goods can be shipped to retailers or customers. An independent laboratory also verifies the strictness and reliability of this production process.
Nowadays, profit is not the sole determiner of a company’s success. Many consumers look for businesses that integrate ethics and sustainability into their mission and core values.
The top CBD companies recognize the importance of social responsibility in achieving their high-level goals and staying relevant in this rapidly developing industry. Startups should scrutinize these companies’ CSR programs so they can also be part of the socio-cultural movement that has rippling effects on businesses and customers.
Do you want to learn more about the goodwill CBD entrepreneurs extend to their respective communities and the causes they believe? Check out our reviews of the leading CBD brands and companies.