Ever since CSR in India received legislative backing, social spending from corporations has received a huge boost in the country. Over 16,000 companies in India fall under the umbrella of CSR’s mandatory provisions. This brings the total annual CSR spend in India to more than INR 20 thousand crores. While the provision is mandatory, companies too are fast figuring out the multi-dimensional benefits of a well-executed CSR program. One of the biggest beneficiaries of CSR initiatives has been the education sector. Here too, corporate scholarship programs are the most preferred option for a majority of India’s leading companies.
In this article, we look at how a corporate scholarship program is beneficial to a company. So, if you are a corporate looking to launch your own scholarship program, read on.
Benefits of CSR for Companies
The enactment of Section 135 of India’s Companies Act, 2013 gave India’s biggest corporates an opportunity to contribute towards India’s economic and social development. Of course, most of the leading Indian corporates were already engaged in philanthropic endeavours. But the legislation gave formal grounding to the practice and ensured that the government isn’t the only one contributing towards social spend.
Also, from the perspective of companies, philanthropic donations offer limited value to a business. On the other hand, a well-executed CSR program has the potential to build a long-lasting partnership between a brand and the community.
Microsoft and Infosys joining hands for “Computers@Classrooms” for example, was not simply a philanthropic donation but a well-thought CSR program. It was closely aligned with the brand values of the companies and helped Infosys, in particular, in building a partnership with the computer literate community in and around Bangalore.
CSR in the Education Sector
The education sector, along with healthcare, has been one of the biggest benefactors of CSR in India. In the last financial year, over 60% of all CSR initiatives by the top 100 listed companies in India were in these two sectors. They also received more than 50% of the total CSR spend, almost INR 4000 crores. The education sector alone has received over INR 4500 crores under CSR in the past two years.
What explains this affinity towards education by the corporate sector? It would seem reasonable to assume that even corporates see the exponential benefits that investment in education can generate, in terms of providing skilled human resources to fuel growth. Moreover, education has been specifically listed as one of the broad areas eligible for CSR activities.
Corporate Scholarship Program as a CSR Initiative
In recent years, scholarship programs have been one of the most popular examples of CSR initiatives. This is because of their ability to strike a balance between social benefit and brand objectives. Below are a few benefits of corporate scholarships as CSR programs.
Establishing Community Partnerships
A Corporate scholarship geared towards a particular community or geography can help a company build a sustainable and long-lasting partnership with the community. Tata Chemicals, for instance, has set up the Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development as a registered trust to work towards the development and welfare of the rural areas in India that the company operates in. The trust also started a scholarship program for children in rural areas, building strong links with the communities.
Creating Future Leaders for your Company
By helping deserving students afford higher education, not only do scholarships make a direct impact on the community, but also empower the next generation of leaders. For students at the beginning of their career, these programs increase brand awareness, positioning a business as an attractive employment option upon graduation.
A great example of this would be the Build India Scholarship program by L&T Construction. The program offers full tuition fee assistance to selected scholars. Along with it, it also offers placement opportunities to selected scholars at the end of their program.
Building Brand Identity
There are many more ways through which brands can tie their identity around the scholarship program it sponsors. L’Oréal, and Fair & Lovely, for instance, have scholarship programs catering exclusively to young women, in line with their brand’s target audience. Hero Motocorp, as part of their ‘Road Heroes’ campaign, ran a scholarship initiative exclusively for victims of road accident victims.
If you want to be a brand with a purpose, a scholarship program can help your brand achieve this.
When to launch a Corporate Scholarship Program
The best time to launch a corporate scholarship program is the period from May to July. There are plenty of valid reasons for this. None, however, are more important than the period marking the beginning of the academic session for colleges and universities in India.
By this time, most students are done with their board exams and taking admissions for their higher studies. Considering most corporate scholarships tend to focus on higher education, it makes perfect sense to target this period when students are actively looking for opportunities to lighten the financial burden of studies.
Additionally, this reduces the need for promotion to ensure the program reaches its intended target. Corporates can even partner with universities to make applying students aware of the scholarship opportunity.
There are other advantages to launching a scholarship program at the beginning of the academic session. It gives the scholarship providers the perfect opportunity to track a scholar’s academic growth over the years.
Are you looking to launch your own corporate scholarship program? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know how we can help you.