How to Recession-Proof Social Impact



The global economy is on the brink of a likely recession, as fallout from COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have contributed to record inflation and general economic uncertainty. 


But now, many corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social and environmental impact leaders are feeling increasing pressure to justify our programs—despite their unprecedented importance and distinct contribution to company ROI and value. The fear is that there will soon come a time when, if we cannot demonstrate the value added by boosting employee engagement, generating goodwill advertising, and prioritizing social and environmental impact, then the teams who contribute to that work will be the next target in the wave of hiring freezes and layoffs. That is, if it hasn't already happened. 


Communications technology firm Twilio was recently forced to lay off 11 percent of its staff, mostly from go-to-market teams. But Chief Social Impact Officer Erin Reilly argues that by holding her department to account for both profit and impact targets, they will weather the storm. "We only win when our nonprofit partners drive greater reach and positively impact more lives," Reilly wrote in Fast Company


At Deed, we're watching the social impact and tech industries closer than ever. We know that our partners are doing all they can amidst the turmoil to maintain—and even grow—their social and environmental impact programs. Our sole focus at this time is to do all we can to help our partners foster a resilient culture of committed, purpose-minded people from all walks of life, while always improving our platform to give you the flexibility you need to stay the course.


Here's our plan. 


We want to bring to your attention the emerging research that proves CSR commitments actually help companies manage operational and financial risk in times of economic and societal crisis. There are also strong indications from C-suites around the world that major companies are actually ramping up their investments in ESG & DEIB right now. Our goal is to help you feel not only prepared for difficult budgetary conversations, but more confident than ever in your work. 


We've all seen the wealth of data proving consumers and employees are more invested in social and environmental impact than ever. Now, it's time to defend their interests—and our vision for a better world. 

Economic Insecurity_Value of social impact (1)


new poll of finance teams from OneStream shows that, despite economic uncertainty, nearly half of companies will invest more in ESG and DEIB initiatives (48 and 47 percent, respectively) in 2023 than they did this year.


Why is that? Compelling data on global companies social and environmental impact suggests a likely answer. Recent global analyses find that,"not only does improved ESG performance drive profit, but failing to meet ESG goals leads to an increase in operational and financial risk." 

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Social impact isn't the only part of the company facing economic pressure. These 10 teams have unique concerns CSR admins must be prepared to address and incorporate in their plans.


1. Executives

2. Marketing & Communications

3. Sales

4. Human Resources

5. Technical teams including HRIS, SSO, & Payroll

6. Legal

7. Finance

8. Data Privacy, Trust, & Compliance

9. Foundation

10. Board


Deed's VP of Sales Chad Haertling has spent years talking with and about meeting these stakeholders' needs. In his new series "Finding the Purpose Fit," Chad shares his insight into how CSR functions in these ten spheres, and how you can engage your teams on their own terms. Read the introduction to "Finding the Purpose Fit."




Economic Insecurity_Value of social impact-1

Source: Gallup


Source: Deloitte




  • Volunteering

    Volunteering can mean strong retention. Recent studies draw on data from PwC and Gallup to show that authentic engagement leads to a 57 percent spike in productivity and 87 percent drop in turnover. There are also proven mental, physical, and social health benefits to volunteering.

  • Giving and Matching

    The most resilient companies, like Kyndryl, the global information technology powerhouse spun off from IBM last year, are using charitable giving to repeatedly beat their own engagement targets—some by as much as double their goal—by offering gamified giving challenges and 1:1 and 2:1 gift matching.   

  • Dollars for Doers

    Matching donations based on volunteer hours is proven to "elevate social impact and healthy employee engagement at the same time."


To win the long game, many companies are looking to their social and environmental impact leaders to help steer the enterprise through economic insecurity. Deed's platform is designed to give CSR leads the tools they need to plan, track, and report on all their giving, volunteering, and skills-sharing initiatives, with a dedicated partner success team to support you along the way. To learn more about how social impact can help manage financial and operational risk, and create a culture of resilience and empathy, request a free demo today.


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