Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Guidelines

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Guidelines: A Comprehensive Overview

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – a commitment by corporations to conduct their business in an ethical manner, contributing to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce, their families, the local community, and society at large.

The applicability and execution of CSR are guided by specific provisions under the Companies Act, 2013, which ensures that businesses contribute positively to society.

Applicability of CSR

The commitment to CSR is not just a voluntary ethical stance but a statutory requirement for certain businesses operating within India.

The Companies Act of 2013 explicitly outlines the criterions which necessitate compliance to CSR mandates.

Criteria for Applicability:

Corporate Social Responsibility applies to:

  • Companies with a net worth of 500 crore or more, or
  • A turnover of 1000 crore or more, or
  • A net profit of 5 crore or more,
    during the financial year immediately preceding.

The directive encompasses all companies meeting the above thresholds, including their holding and subsidiary companies, as well as foreign companies with a branch or project office in India. This sets a broad spectrum of businesses that need to align with CSR provisions.

For deeper insights into financial criteria affecting CSR, consider exploring GST registration services in India, which can offer clarity on how business turnovers intersect with tax and compliance obligations.

Constitution of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee

Upon meeting the applicable criteria, companies are mandated to establish a CSR Committee. This committee plays a pivotal role in the CSR framework by overseeing the development, implementation, and compliance of the CSR policies and activities.

Membership Composition:

  • Minimum of three directors, with at least one being an independent director.
  • In cases where the company is not required to have an independent director (applicable to certain private companies, foreign companies, and smaller public companies), the committee must consist of two or more directors.
  • For foreign companies, the committee should include at least one resident director in India and another member nominated by the company.

The primary duty of the CSR Committee is to formulate and periodically review the company’s CSR policy, which must cover activities outlined in Schedule VII of the Companies Act.

It’s pivotal that the CSR Committee align with standards and transparency in their operations. Companies might consider engaging with experts in certification and attestation services to ensure compliance and veracity of their CSR reports.

To capture the essence of accountability and transparency, businesses often undergo rigorous statutory audits, which also encapsulate assessments of their CSR engagements and fulfillment of obligatory spends, ensuring transparency and accountability in their CSR endeavors.

Financial Obligations and Framing of CSR Policy

Financial Obligations in CSR

Once the applicability and committee formation are squared away, a key aspect of CSR is determining the financial commitment required from the company.

The Companies Act stipulates specific financial obligations to ensure that CSR activities have substantial impacts.

Minimum CSR Expenditure:

Companies falling under the CSR criteria are required to spend at least 2% of their average net profits made during the three immediately preceding financial years.

In the case of a newly incorporated company which hasn’t completed three financial years, the expenditure is calculated as 2% of the profit of the preceding financial year.

Understanding the intricacies of computations and financial allocations for CSR can benefit from specialized GST consultancy services, which provide insights into how these expenses are accounted for under GST regulations, thus aligning CSR spending with compliance and optimal tax benefits.

Local Area Preference:

It’s encouraged that companies prioritize spending the CSR budget in local areas where they operate. This not only helps in uplifting the socio-economic conditions of the local community but also builds a good corporate image and trust among local stakeholders.

Framing Corporate Social Responsibility Policy

The cornerstone of effective CSR execution is a well-framed CSR policy. This policy outlines the specific activities, budget allocations, and implementation frameworks that the company will follow to achieve its CSR objectives.

Key Components of CSR Policy:

  • CSR Objectives: Clearly defined goals that align with corporate strategy and social welfare.
  • List of Projects: Detailed projects or programs as outlined in Schedule VII of the Companies Act.
  • Budget Allocations: Including provisions for surplus and any carry-forward amounts.
  • Implementation Schedules: Timelines and milestones for each project or CSR activity.
  • Monitoring and Reporting Mechanisms: Systems to evaluate progress and impact of CSR initiatives.

This CSR policy must be formally approved by the Board and be made publicly available, typically on the company’s website.

This fosters transparency and allows stakeholders to hold the company accountable to its commitment.

The procedure for crafting and approving the CSR policy is critical and should be meticulously documented in the CSR committee’s minutes, which are subsequently ratified by the board.

Companies might find it beneficial to adhere to GST input credit rules on CSR expenditures, which can facilitate the financial management of CSR activities in compliance with tax laws.

Disclosure Requirements and Implementation of CSR Activities

Disclosure of Corporate Social Responsibility

Transparency and disclosure are fundamental in CSR practices to ensure stakeholders can verify a company’s commitment and actual impact on societal development.

The Companies Act mandates specific disclosures regarding CSR activities to foster transparency and accountability.

Annual Disclosure:

  • The CSR policy approved by the Board must be displayed on the company’s official website, offering public accessibility.
  • An annual CSR report detailing the activities undertaken, the expenditure incurred, and the outcomes achieved must be included in the company’s annual report.
  • Details of any unspent CSR funds along with the reasons need to be provided in the annual Board’s report.

Case of Unspent CSR Funds:

  • If a company fails to spend the earmarked CSR funds within a fiscal year, the unspent amount must be either carried forward to the next fiscal year for CSR activities or transferred to one of the funds specified in Schedule VII (like the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund) within a set timeframe.

These disclosures help maintain a level of scrutiny over corporate activities aimed at societal welfare, ensuring that they align with the declared objectives and statutory requirements.

Implementation of CSR Activities

Effective CSR implementation involves careful planning and exemplary execution of projects that align with a company’s CSR policy.

The committee is tasked with ensuring these policies are effectively executed while adhering to legal and ethical standards.

Implementation Strategies:

  • Direct Execution: Companies may undertake projects directly using their resources and workforce.
  • Through Registered Trusts or Foundations: Companies can also opt to execute projects through external agencies such as registered trusts, foundations, or Section 8 companies with a proven track record in handling similar projects or activities.

Administrative Overheads: It is crucial to ensure that not more than 5% of the total CSR expenditure in a financial year is spent on administrative overheads, allowing maximized allocation towards actual CSR activities.

Project Documentation and Monitoring:

  • Detailed documentation of each project is essential for effective monitoring and evaluation.
  • Regular audits and impact assessments should be conducted to ensure objectives are met and resources are optimally utilized.

For transparency and robust execution, companies can leverage external audits from specialized agencies to validate the efficacy and transparency of the CSR activities, enhancing trust amongst stakeholders and the public.

Non-Applicability, Formation Procedures, and FAQs on CSR

Non-Applicability of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

While CSR is mandatory for many corporations, there are conditions where a company may not be required to comply with CSR provisions.

Criteria for Non-Applicability:

  • If a company does not meet the financial thresholds for CSR applicability (as discussed earlier) for three consecutive financial years, it is exempt from constituting a CSR committee and from undertaking CSR activities.
  • This exemption lasts until the company again meets the eligibility criteria in subsequent years, triggering the need for re-establishment of CSR compliance mechanisms.

This provision ensures that companies facing economic downturns or smaller scale operations are not unduly burdened by CSR obligations.

Procedure for Formation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The formation of a CSR committee and the framing of a CSR policy are structured processes aimed at ensuring effective implementation and oversight of CSR activities.

Steps to Form a CSR Committee:

  1. Board Meeting Notification: Issue a formal notice for a board meeting to discuss the formation of the CSR committee.
  2. Committee Formation: During the meeting, form the committee ensuring it includes the requisite number of directors as per regulations.
  3. CSR Policy Drafting: Convene a meeting of the CSR committee to draft the CSR policy outlining the goals, budget, and plans for CSR activities.
  4. Approval: Present the draft policy in the next board meeting for discussion and approval.
  5. Disclosure: Once approved, disclose the CSR policy on the company’s website and prepare to include details in the annual report.

These structured steps ensure compliance with regulations and foster a methodical approach to CSR.

FAQs Related to CSR Provisions

What happens if the company does not spend the required amount on CSR?

If a company fails to spend the required amount, it must explain the reasons in the annual board report and either carry the unspent amount forward to the next year or transfer it to a fund as specified in Schedule VII.

Can a company carry forward the surplus generated from CSR activities to the next year?

No, surplus arising from CSR activities should not be considered as part of business profit and cannot be carried forward as CSR credit.

Is CSR spending mandatory for all branches of a foreign company operating in India?

CSR applicability is based on the financial thresholds outlined earlier, and if the Indian branch meets these criteria, CSR obligations apply regardless of the parent company’s status.

Are CSR contributions tax-deductible?

Generally, CSR contributions are considered a business expense and are not tax-deductible as a charitable contribution. However, specific contributions that also qualify under other provisions of tax laws may be eligible for deductions.


This section has covered the conditions under which companies might be exempt from CSR, the necessary steps for setting up CSR committees and policies, and addressed vital FAQs to clarify common queries related to CSR operations.

Understanding these nuances helps companies navigate CSR regulations efficiently, ensuring they not only comply with the law but also positively impact their communities.


The materials provided herein are solely for educational and informational purposes. No attorney/professional-client relationship is created when you access or use the site or the materials. The information presented on this site does not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for professional or legal advice.

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