Vietnamese enterprises have failed to implement effective corporate social responsibility projects in a strategic way to create long-term social benefits and improve their reputations, a study revealed on December 6.

The study was jointly conducted by the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES), the Asia Foundation and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Of the 516 Vietnamese enterprises surveyed in Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City last year, more than 390 understood their social responsibility and invested 113 billion VND (5.3 million USD) and 19,500 man hours.

However, for many, giving is an ad-hoc, short-term activity.

Dang Hoang Giang of the CECODES said that in western countries, corporate responsibility is a way to bolster the reputation of enterprises, but this thinking seems to be absent among Vietnamese firms.

"Giving is not considered a part of business," Giang said. "Many enterprises do it randomly, such as supporting flood victims or distributing New Year's gifts to the poor."

He cited the HCM City-based Hoa Sen Group as an example. In May, the group brought Nick Vicijic, an Australian disabled motivational speaker, to Vietnam. The event was widely publicised across the country and put the company in the media spotlight. However, according to the group's representative, it was totally unplanned.

Many activities were also half-hearted, he said.

According to the study, only 15 percent of enterprises conducted social responsibility projects to enhance their reputation and image, while the rest said they had no business agenda.

They also failed to evaluate the results of their contributions, and as a result, few had sustainable plans in place. One third of the enterprises surveyed did not have corporate responsibility plans for next year.

According to Giang, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should work with enterprises to plan and implement strategic corporate responsibility initiatives. However, only 9 percent of businesses said they had cooperated with NGOs because they were unsure of their roles or trustworthiness.

Pham Chi Lan, former vice chairwoman of the VCCI, said the practice of giving among enterprises is unpopular because some doubt their cash will reach those it was intended for. Others worried about the media and public opinion, wanted their contributions to remain anonymous.

She said to boost social responsibility efforts the State should form a policy to incorporate it into business activities. Reports on corporate social responsibility should also be made available to help connect enterprises and those who need help.-VNA