Measuring Impact Critical to Corporate Community Investment: New Report

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Corporate contributions to communities are increasingly under scrutiny for what they actually achieve. Such scrutiny may not only stem from external groups such as investors, media, pressure groups and regulators, but also from a company’s own senior management. In response, community investment managers are bringing a more strategic focus to the function, looking to ensure that it is recognized for its contribution to the company’s overall business objectives.

To understand how companies approach impact, and how trends are changing in this area, Corporate Citizenship surveyed more than 130 CSR professionals around the world. The results of the study are now published in a report titled: “Hard outcomes or hollow promises: Realizing the true impact of corporate community investment.”

Results reveal that despite good intentions there is some confusion, particularly around what corporations mean by impact and how they measure it. Crucially, there is a significant gap between the aspirations that CSR managers have for their programs and how companies actually deliver them.

While three in four corporate sustainability managers believe companies should set long-term goals for their community activity, less than a quarter feel that their organization currently does this. This impact-aspiration gap presents a key challenge for companies.

This gap is also reflected in the way companies communicate their impact. A cross-section of corporate websites or corporate sustainability reports will show companies confusing the contributions made with the change achieved, blurring the boundaries between the inputs, outputs and impacts.

The demographics of companies highlight major differences in measurement of impact. For instance, in Europe 52 percent of practitioners are measuring some sort of impact, but in North America this drops to 38 percent. Similarly, more than half of large companies are measuring some sort of impact, but in smaller companies only one-third are doing so.

While challenges remain, some of the leading companies have recognized the importance of corporate community investment and measuring impact. Telecom company, EE, has set itself a target of improving the digital skills of a million people through a range of community activities and web and customer interactions.

Mondelez International through its foundation has invested $50 million to promote healthy lifestyles. Its three-pronged approach covers nutrition education, active play and access to fresh foods. Global drinks manufacturer Diageo aims to enable those who live and work in its communities, especially women, to gain the skills and resources to build a better future through its community investment program, which runs in nearly 70 countries.

Source: Corporate Citizenship

Image Credit: Flickr via USC Upstate