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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not standard practice for many startups. In the early years, the focus is often squarely on business development and becoming profitable.

Our company was founded about three years ago as a social game studio. Although we had humble beginnings, the popularity of our products has skyrocketed and our business has flourished. Building a relationship with our users has become increasingly important and we have learned that it's never too early to give back.

User-driven CSR

Incorporating social value into our strategy makes good business sense and it has always been a priority. Many corporations drive CSR from the top down. We take a completely different approach, working directly with our users to decide on the causes to be rallied around. This approach to CSR feels natural and it gives us the opportunity to work with customers, which in turn strengthens our relationships.

As we support causes that are important to all, we contribute to the culture of social connection and co-operation our company was founded upon, a culture that makes for invested staff and users.

From concept to practice

Our approach to CSR is effective because it's integrated, well co-ordinated and well executed. Users direct the causes that we support and their actions within our games directly impact the outcomes of the campaigns. Integrating these campaigns with the user experience means incentivizing support and allowing for a mutually beneficial experience. Simply put, we hold sales on premium items within our games and the proceeds from the sales are donated to the appropriate charity, creating a win-win scenario for users.

Reflecting the passions of our users

It is very important that we support causes that represent our global user base. When natural disasters have occurred, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, and the wave of tornados that rocked the U.S. Midwest earlier this year, our users have rallied together to request fundraising campaigns. Our users have also spearheaded charity campaigns to support causes close to them, such as children's health, wounded veterans, the 9/11 memorial and, most recently, cancer research.

The power of collaboration

Over the Labour Day weekend, users demonstrated their support for cancer research by raising $52,750.11. They were very passionate about it, as the disease affects so many people, and we were very pleased with the outcome. One player from our community shared this: "Thanks for the sale donating to cancer research. With the disease being so close to me this sale means so much."

Looking forward

As we grow, and as we push the boundaries of technology and game innovation, we will continue to develop fun and exciting products while investing in the social value that nourishes our strong connection to our user base.

Monika Konrad is community team manager atUken Games, which specializes in cross-platform social games played on Facebook, iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices.

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