Measuring your company's social impact

How to Measure Your Company’s Social Impact

Which statement has more impact?

“We donated $300 to a charity who feeds the hungry.”
“We fed a single mother’s family of four children for a week.”

Data and numbers have more meaning when they tell a story. But with hundreds or thousands of employees at your company, it becomes infinitely more difficult to pinpoint the overall social impact.

This post will provide strategies on how to measure your company’s impact with these tips:

  • The Importance of Measuring and Sharing Impact
  • Starting Simple to Determine Your Impact Area of Focus
  • Calculating Your Impact
  • Communicating Your Social Impact

It’s important to understand that you don’t need to change the world overnight.

You can begin by simply looking at one program or activity. Understanding what occurs and then tracking and analyzing that data can lead to a better understanding of how your company is positively impacting the world.

Learn how you can measure social impact.

The Importance of Measuring and Sharing Impact

Hopefully you agree that tangible results have more meaning than raw numbers, as in the example above.

But I’ll also explain three other reasons why measuring and sharing your social impact is important:

  • Impact demonstrates that a company is living up to its values and drives a more positive company image.
  • Impact increases employee engagement.
  • Impact can highlight a company’s contribution to greater civic engagement programs such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and IMPACT 2030.

Many companies have values but don’t always show with concrete results how they are living up to this mission.

Providing impact results can back up the social responsibility value claims your company makes. This has the added advantage of boosting public perceptions of a company.

Managers go to great lengths to motivate employees, reduce turnover, and increase employees general work ethic and morale. Yet it’s proven that employees engage more with an employer who practices social responsibility.

79% of people prefer to work for a socially conscious company.

Communicating or publishing impact successes can do wonders to boost employee morale which has major impacts on the bottom line.

Sharing impact also illustrates the company’s collaboration with and contribution to larger movements. One organizational effort in particular, IMPACT 2030, which I’ll discuss in a later section, is a great way to get involved in the larger sustainable community.

Most company goals already align with the SDGs — it’s just a matter of discovering yours. It also offers an opportunity to connect with customers or vendors who also share the same goals.

Measuring social impact for nonprofits is about starting slow.

Starting Simple to Determine Your Impact Area of Focus

Before calculating your impact, it’s important to define or determine the social mission. Consider both your company’s and your employees’ social goals to define one specific impact area to focus on at a time.

What does your company already say it cares about? Is community engagement, making a difference in local communities or caring for others or the planet part of your company’s values or culture? Does your company focus on a specific cause or have a history of rallying around one event or non-profit organization?

You could also consider which nonprofits or organizations you already support. Perhaps you could choose your impact measurement based on which non-profit received the most funds from your company. It could be as simple as that.

While the company mission is the guiding rudder, the culture of the employees are the oars that keep the boat rowing.

Where are they donating their money, time, and resources? Use the causes of your employees to appeal to what matters to the people who define your company and culture.

By looking at both your company’s mission and the culture, you’ll find one area of focus to help you calculate and share your impact.

Learn how your organization should measure social impact.

Calculating Your Impact

Next comes the numbers. This section will explain best practices for measuring company effort, as well as give examples for how to determine what kind of real world impact results from the company’s CSR efforts.

Check on a nonprofit organization’s website or reach out to them directly to find out how they calculate dollars into tangible impact.

Nonprofits give estimates to help you total up these numbers. For example, Smile Train estimates they create one “new smile,” or cleft palate surgery, for every $X donated. This makes calculations simple.

But what about other organizations who might focus on more abstract or less measurable goals, like medical research?

This become more difficult to measure. We always recommend reaching out to an organization to develop relationships and work together to determine impact numbers in this case.

If you work with a select charity aligned with a broader company goal, then get those charities engaged to help you measure the specific impact of volunteering or dollars on your combined goals – for example, number of students mentored, increase in test score year over year for same group, or amount of water cleaned.

Your CSR provider should have tools to better track and report on your company’s impact numbers. Here are some additional tips on using CSR software to your advantage: 

  • Consider adding a question to the admin panel that gathers impact data for all volunteer events.
  • Consider adding a post event survey to gather additional quantitative data, like number of students mentored, read to, or tutored.

A part of social impact is communicating with your donors.

Communicating Your Social Impact

By being creative in the way you communicate your company’s impact, you can receive the benefits outlined above. You should communicate this both internally and externally.

Here are some ideas:

Internally:

  • Include digital signage on your CSR platform.
  • Create a voting campaign to recognize and maybe even reward employees or teams contributing the most to a specific goal. The reward can be a corporate donation or cause card.
  • Include the numbers, stories, and recognition in executive all-hands meetings or communications.

Externally:

  • Generate an engaging end-of-year report (Dell does a great job of this).
  • Create a social impact page on your website.
  • Write a press release/blog.
  • Create branding or stories for conferences, sales meetings, and on the wall at the office.

Conclusion

None of this is possible if you aren’t tracking the efforts of your company and its employees and if you haven’t first considered the impact the activities or dollars create.

Whatever your company size, it’s critical to measure the good that you do.

So whether you’re tracking giving, volunteering, and grants in an excel spreadsheet, or using a powerful CSR software platform, the point remains. Having a CSR tool that makes sense for your company size is critical.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to:

  • Prove you’re acting on your sustainable values.
  • Build employee morale with engagement.
  • Contribute to larger social forces.

For inspiration, check out Double the Donation’s list of 10 Companies Doing Corporate Philanthropy Right.



Blaine McGaffiganBlaine McGaffigan is a Content Marketing Specialist who brings over 5 years of digital marketing experience to YourCause. He strives for creativity in all projects, and believes a unique and sincere voice is critical for engagement. In his free time, you can find him kayaking the river, taking photographs, and reading comics.

Simply put, YourCause, LLC is a technology company connecting corporations and their employees with the causes they care most about. Our SaaS-based CSRconnect Platform is a fully hosted and managed solution used to engage employees in volunteering, giving, and sustainability initiatives, along with helping grants administrators manage corporate and foundation philanthropic programs. We currently support over 4.2 million employees in 160+ countries at more than 140 Fortune 1000 companies. Since inception, we’ve processed nearly $1.5B to charities and tracked over 23M volunteer hours – that’s 2,625 years! The companies partnering with us are joining the YourCause Global Good Network, representing some of the most committed corporate citizens and dedicated nonprofits around the world.

3 Things You Didn't Know About Volunteer Grants

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Volunteer Grants

Did you know that one volunteer hour equates to about $23 for your organization? Of course, this may vary by state or location, but volunteer hours have a significant impact on the nonprofits they serve.

Did you also know that those volunteer hours can have a large financial benefit to your organization if they come from corporate volunteers?

Corporations can give donations based on the number of hours their organization contributes. Think about how this could impact your cause!

It’s no surprise that corporate grants and donations elevate your mission. Developing relationships and partnerships with corporations can have unlimited benefits for your cause. However, there are a few things that you may not know about corporate giving.

Corporate Giving is on the Rise

Corporations donated $18.45 billion for an increase of 3.9% in 2015. The revolution of corporate responsibility is steadily growing. Clearly, corporations want to make a difference in their communities.

Millennials want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, too. The Millennial Impact Report states that millennials want to work for a corporation that is making a difference in their community and the world.

By 2020, millennials will make up about 50% of the workforce. By incorporating philanthropy into corporate culture, businesses become more attractive to this generation.

Corporations must make philanthropy a priority in order to stay competitive in today’s market, which will only increase the popularity of volunteer grants and programs.

It is also important that your nonprofit stays at the forefront of this trend. Making sure your supporters are aware of these opportunities could be extremely beneficial for the growth of your organization.

In order to continue the growth of corporate giving and volunteer grants your nonprofit needs to have an open stream of communication with your supporters.

Here are a few ways your nonprofit can spread the word about volunteer grants:

  • Communicate all benefits of volunteer grants to supporters. By communicating the benefits of corporate grant programs, you can rest assured that your volunteers are aware of the opportunities. This will encourage them to reach out to their employers to see if they can participate in one as well.
  • Be available for questions. Your volunteers are bound to have questions. You need to clearly communicate contact information on your website and via social media. If volunteers cannot get their questions answered, they will likely go somewhere else to volunteer.
  • Reach out to local businesses and corporations for partnership opportunities. You won’t know if a business would be interested in a partnership if you don’t reach out to them. You never know what relationships will come from being persistent!
  • Promote volunteer grants on social media, emails, newsletters, and marketing efforts. Educating your supporters about grant programs will also encourage them to reach out to their employers. They want to help your organization in any way they can, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so!
  • Celebrate your current corporate sponsors and volunteers. Showing appreciation for your current volunteers and corporate sponsors will encourage them to continue to give to your organization. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.

2015 Was America’s Most Generous Year Yet

When there is an increase in charitable donations, it is a direct reflection of the state of the economy. More donations equate to better economic conditions. If the state of the economy is doing well, then corporations are likely to be doing well too.

In order to capitalize on the opportunities created by a strong economy, you must make your nonprofit visible to your community.

When corporate volunteers are aware of your brand, they’re more likely to come to your organization when they’re ready to donate their time.

Here are a few ways to make your nonprofit stand out to corporations and encourage volunteer grant programs:

  • Cultivate brand ambassadors. By having your current volunteers promote your cause, you will attract more volunteers and corporate supporters. The more people you have talking about your mission and wearing your logo, the greater buzz your organization will create.
  • Strengthen your leadership team. Encouraging strong leadership within your organization can also encourage more corporate grants and volunteers. Corporations want to be involved and support an organization that has structure. There are many ways to show your supporters how strong your leadership team is.
  • Engage supporters. Engaging supporters is key to cultivating corporate volunteers. You can do this via social media, emails, newsletters, and your overall marketing efforts.
  • Encourage corporate volunteers. By building relationships with your corporate volunteers, they will be inspired to continue to volunteer for your organization. The stronger relationships you build, the more loyalty and trust you will develop.
  • Research team volunteer grants. Group volunteer grants provide an opportunity for your nonprofit to reach out to corporations that have known grant programs. Corporations want to be involved in the community, and this is the perfect way for your nonprofit to create that partnership.

Corporate Giving Consists of 5% of Total Charitable Donations

What does this mean for the nonprofit community? There is a lot of room for growth with volunteer grants!

5% is a small amount in comparison to the amount individuals donate, so now is a great time for your nonprofit and the community to reach out to corporations and build partnerships.

Research companies that provide volunteer programs and grants. You can start by reviewing the top matching gift companies. These companies will give you a great starting point. Consider reaching out to begin building relationships with them.

Your organization can also promote the value to corporate responsibility. The more corporations are open to giving to nonprofits, the more social good nonprofits can do. Corporations have a lot of power and financial resources that can be extremely beneficial to your nonprofit.

In order for your nonprofit to grow and be sustainable, you need resources. Spreading the word about social responsibility will benefit everyone in the long run. These partnerships can truly make a difference in every community.

Communicating the impact social responsibility and volunteer grants can have on nonprofits can contribute to the social good movement.

Make it a priority for your nonprofit to market and communicate the benefits of corporate grants. This will help continue the growth of corporate donations and grants. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!


Ashley Chorpenning is VolunteerHub’s Marketing Communications Specialist.