The World Business Council for Sustainable Development in its publication "Making Good Business Sense" by Lord Holme and Richard Watts, used the following definition. "Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large"
The same report gave some evidence of the different perceptions of what this should mean from a number of different societies across the world. Definitions as different as "CSR is about capacity building for sustainable livelihoods. It respects cultural differences and finds the business opportunities in building the skills of employees, the community and the government" from Ghana, through to "CSR is about business giving back to society" from the Phillipines
Traditionally in the United States, CSR has been defined much more in terms of a philanphropic model. Companies make profits, unhindered except by fulfilling their duty to pay taxes. Then they donate a certain share of the profits to charitable causes. It is seen as tainting the act for the company to receive any benefit from the giving
For instance, the CSR definition used by Business for Social Responsibility is: "Operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business".
On the other hand, the European Commission hedges its bets with two definitions wrapped into one: "A concept whereby companies decide voluntarily to contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment. A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis".
CSR can be defined as the systematic commitment of a business towards economic development and work towards improving the quality of life of the people working there thus impacting the lives in the society. Basically, CSR is all about business giving back to society.