© 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – The paper aims to measure and identify customer preference for social issues and understand the importance of customer engagement when service organisations implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. Design/methodology/approach – Developing a relevancy/scope typology framework, this paper then examines the relationships between social issues preference, engagement and loyalty. The models were estimated to assess the role engagement played in the relationship between CSR issue preference and loyalty. The sample was obtained from customers who used a large national Australian Internet service provider. Findings – Local and global CSR issues relevant to the organisation were most preferred, while engagement had the strongest, positive effect on loyalty and was a full mediator of the relationship between CSR issue preference and loyalty. Practical implications – Service organisations should direct their CSR efforts towards addressing social issues that are relevant to their business, and obtaining customer engagement is imperative if they wish to improve loyalty. Social implications – Providing greater clarity on how organisations can improve loyalty from CSR programmes will increase the likelihood of organisations investing their resources towards addressing social issues. Originality/value – Few empirical studies have identified which social issues are the most preferred by customers. The development of a social issue typology and the testing of the relationships between social issue preference, engagement and loyalty provides empirical evidence of how a CSR strategy can improve loyalty.