CSR – Thematic Areas Trends & Spending

A CSR thematic area is the most important constituent of a company’s CSR strategy. It defines the theme and series of activities in which the organization will do CSR spending, run programs & create the desired social impact and related upliftment. As per the Companies Act 2013, a thematic area qualifies for CSR spending if it is listed as part of activities under the Schedule VII of section 135 of the Companies Act.

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Applicability of CSR – The Basics

The Companies Act, 2013 requires every eligible company in India to spend 2% of their profits on Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) activities. The company’s Board is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring proper compliance with the requirement. CSR activities, unlike traditional charity, should be carried out in ‘project mode’ in areas specified in the regulations. The regulations also require preparation of a CSR policy & an annual action plan for undertaking targeted CSR projects during the year.

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CSR Activities of Indian Corporates – FY 2021-2022

As a CSR consulting services firm, we work with many Indian corporates closely on defining and executing their CSR strategy. Many companies are doing great work as part of their CSR programme in the thematic areas of:

– Education

– Healthcare

– Environment Sustainability

– Skill Development

– Women and Child development amongst others

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How To Write a Good CSR Policy

Clients frequently ask us how to write a CSR policy document, which is one of our CSR advisory services. The simplest way to get started is to Google templates. Is that, however, the best approach? Organizations have different perspectives on their vision and societal contributions. As a result, similar CSR policies are not possible. A company should consider its vision, values, and the impact it wants its CSR programme to have on the community when creating a CSR policy. This will ensure that the CSR policy developed captures the true essence of the enterprise’s CSR objectives and is unique in every way.

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Consulting Services Offered by a CSR Consulting Firm

The Indian CSR regulations are becoming more elaborate, which requires Indian corporations to adopt an appropriate approach and method for developing and implementing their CSR strategy. It goes without saying that a properly designed CSR strategy does more than just ensure compliance; it also has tangible and intangible benefits for the brand and the company.

A CSR consulting firm works with an organization to develop and execute a properly defined & structured CSR strategy which not only ensure compliance with the law but also enables the organization to deploy CSR programs successfully and reap benefits from it.

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The Impact of CSR on the Indian Sports Ecosystem

In a country like India, where cricket is practiced as a religion and has sentiments deeply embedded into the population’s heart and soul, we still see an unfathomable gap and neglect in our Sports infrastructure, other than cricket.

There are a number of activities that qualify for CSR under the Companies Act, including health and sanitation, education and skill development, rural development, gender equality, and sports development. In the initial years of this mandate, many companies didn’t know much about it, so they just wrote checks to the PM Fund, thereby eliminating lengthy audits.

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Impact and Benefits of CSR On Indian Corporates

India proudly stands on the Global platform to have mandated Corporate Social Responsibility, following an amendment to the Companies Act in 2014.

The implementation and execution of a well-thought-out CSR project can benefit companies not only in terms of compliance but also in developing their most intangible asset: their brand value and reputation. Other benefits include

  • Improved employee connect and engagement
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Credible international image
  • Greater societal impact

However, to ensure that the CSR project adopted is a success, the company should tie the project with its overall mission and vision. The thematic areas selected (such as Education, healthcare, WASH, etc.) should connect and align with its overall social objective. Also, CSR initiatives should have a long-term implementation vision, with local communities involved. Only then a project can be successful.

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Pre-requisite for business Perquisites!

Finance bill 2022 appears to have specific focus on non-monetary & in kind benefits provided by business houses to its stakeholders, distributors, dealers & business partners. It has been a usual practice for some businesses to reward or provide free gifts to its business partners on achievement of targets or goals in sales/business.

Finance bill 2022 has come up with a couple of amendments which would force  the businesses to relook into the way such free gifts/benefits are dealt with. Every time a free gift or in kind benefit is to be passed on to the business partners, the payer would need to carefully consider the following- 

  • Determine if an expenditure results in a benefit or perquisite to the recipient 
  • Verify if the acceptance of the benefit or perquisite by the recipient is in violation of any law or rules or guidelines as may be applicable to the recipient. In case it is so, the expenditure on account of such free benefit or perquisite would not be a tax deductible expenditure for the payer. 
  • In case the value of such benefit/perquisite provided to an Indian resident is in excess of INR 20,000, deduct a tax of 10% before providing such benefit/perquisite to the business partner
  • In case the benefit is provided in kind, the payer would need to ensure deposit of 10% taxes before releasing such benefits to the recipient. 

The proposed amendments would not only increase the cost of doing business for the corporates but would also cast onerous compliance obligation on the business houses.  

Budget 2022 for NGO’s – Simple tax regime or onerous requirements?

The income tax segment of the Finance Minister’s Budget speech 2022 was one of the shortest in recent years and most of the amendments appeared procedural. However, challenges were lurking in the fine print for Not-for-Profit & Charitable sector. While the Government emphasised that the proposed changes would result in simple, stable and trust-worthy tax regime, the tax proposals for charitable organizations could have far reaching implications on their operations.

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