Internet giant gets creative in CSR
In Korea, a nation obsessed with e-this and e-that, even community work and corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts can’t be successful if not integrated fully on the Web.
There are numerous websites arranging donations to charities, promoting their causes in flashy and interactive ways, and allowing Internet users the convenience of making donations using credit cards and mobile phones instead of wiring money from banks.
NHN, the country’s largest Internet company that operates the dominant domestic search engine Naver and popular game portal Hangame now looks to take Web-based social campaigns to the next level.
The company’s CSR activities are built around Happybean, its donation website that has managed to raise more than 30 billion won (about $27 million) since its launch in 2005. While most CSR efforts have been corporate-driven events motivated by public relations strategies, the distinctive character of Happybean is its openness.
The website is operated like a blog or a social media page. Community groups and charity organizations can post their stories and ask for help, and NHN-subscribed users can donate by clicking on icons beneath the articles.
``There are many fundraising campaigns with the goal of helping the underprivileged and others who need financial help. But since companies want their actions to be seen, their CSR efforts won’t reach everywhere,’’ said Kwon Hyuk-il, CEO of the Happybean Foundation.
``We need a softer, more grass-roots approach and the Internet enables this. Average Koreans, compared to other people in Western nations, still aren’t accustomed to a culture of donating, and I think Happybean can help overcome this.
``Because Happybean’s platforms have greater flexibility, it’s easy for Koreans to give even less than $1 as charitable donations. We managed to give 550 million won to the relief efforts in Haiti after the massive earthquake and 640 million won to Japan during the country’s earthquake and tsunami crisis.’’
More businesses are now showing interest in connecting their CSR efforts with Happybean’s platforms and it has established connections with Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Shinhan Bank.
``Shinhan Bank collected 130 million won through Happybean last year for a CSR program it pushed. We are being approached by many other companies too,’’ said Kwon.