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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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 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.