The recognition that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is important for business sustainability has focused the bulk of research on explicit normative arguments for its adoption by large corporations. This ignores the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the investigation of how such firms actually perform CSR activities. This study begins with the premise that SMEs may design appropriate CSR strategies to address issues in local communities. SMEs operate within these communities and subsequently are more aware of community and environmental issues than their larger counterparts. From this emerges the aim of examining the reality of this proposition from the particular perspective of a regional city in Australia. The results show a gap between normative CSR proposals and the actual operation of CSR processes in this cohort of SMEs in a regional community. What is exposed is the complexity of CSR 'on the ground at the business frontline'.