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CSR Impact Measurement

CSR Impact Measurement: From Strategy to Quantifiable Results

When one says CSR impact measurement, one might think that often-times, results speak for themselves. But do they? There is a long road from strategy to tangible results, and you have to have the right tools to ensure you deploy the full force of your ‘doing good’ capabilities.

Every day, we see more and more businesses making enormous progress on the route to a sustainable future, by investing more in communities, their employees, diversity and environment. Pragmatically speaking, in order to attract talent and clients, it has become mandatory to have a CSR strategy and policy. In the case of public bids, it is actually mandated by law. 

There are great ideas and resources on how to start and execute on your CSR strategy. The last step of which can also be the most important one: how do you measure your impact?

CSR Impact Measurement Matrix

To start with, we should define what impact your CSR/sustainability programme can have. It can be both internal and external, as well as environmental and on the community.

For example:

  1. If you volunteer with a local charity, you will have an internal impact (your employees) and on the community (the charity).
  2. If you decide to change your packaging to a compostable version, you have an external (client awareness) and an environmental impact.
  3. One more example is if you and your team organise a day out to clean the local playground – this way you have mostly internal (employees) and environmental impact.

As you have seen from those examples, you can use this matrix to determine what kind of an impact each of your activities has. Why is this important? Because this will give you a good structure to choose what initiatives you should focus on, depending on your CSR strategy. Ideally, you would have a diverse portfolio of initiatives, in order to keep employees, clients, the community and the environment on your organisation’s radar. In most cases, however, businesses choose the key areas they want to put their efforts into. 

Now, how do we actually measure impact? We use the Theory of Change.

Theory of Change is a specific type of methodology for planning, participation, and evaluation that is used in companies, philanthropy, not-for-profit and government sectors to promote social change.


Source: http://www.lbg-online.net/framework/

Now that we have established the right way of measuring your impact from different initiatives a key question remains – how do you actually do it?

The Old-School Tools

The answer is simple: you need to build a data recording system which collects the information in a structured way. The most simple but outdated example is an Excel spreadsheet with multiple columns and tabs. Unfortunately, what we see with businesses is that they still record their full set of CSR and sustainability data in Excel (from initiative name to participants, volunteering hours, donations, kWh, CO2, etc.) which was the norm some 15 years ago.

Some are now migrating to a more secure and collaborative approach, such as online spreadsheets, but that still does not provide the robustness and collaboration needed to run a CSR programme. 

The New Ways

In the digital cloud era, there are tools which are built for purpose, aiming to increase collaboration while saving time for managing CSR activities and employees. Such a system should allow for every employee to automatically log their volunteering hours, fundraise, apply for matching donations and participate in environmental initiatives while all types of data points feed into a company reporting dashboard available to senior management and CSR managers to review and use for business purposes.

Such systems should be built with the Theory of Change in mind (input>output>impact recording) for impact valuation and in addition, be able to represent much more data points that are valuable to the business such as what sustainability initiatives does the team mostly engage with, how customers react to different types of environmental campaigns, etc. All with the view of making sure you fully understand the good you are doing in the world, and you can provide your stakeholders with quantifiable results that their efforts have yielded.

(KindLink is the technology platform supporting corporates in managing their CSR, offering features ranging from CSR strategy development and CSR impact measurement and reporting to measuring SDGs, employee engagement and volunteering opportunities marketplace)

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