Measuring the societal impact and business value of your corporate giving program is challenging, especially with increased pressure for transparency and results. We’ve reached a point in corporate social responsibility (CSR) where we know programs have impact, but the question remains, just how much social change are CSR initiatives actually bringing about?
To answer this question and many others, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) examined 261 companies, including 62 of the largest Fortune 100 companies, in their 2014 release of Giving in Numbers. The report found that 76% of corporate giving departments measured the outcomes and impacts of their programs in 2013.
Additionally, CECP found that companies evaluating their philanthropic programs generally focused on program areas, such as education, health, and community/economic development. This is the approach adopted by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a multinational pharmaceutical company, when they evaluate their grant program.
Identifying and Evaluating Impact Metrics
Since it started in 2011, the GSK IMPACT Grant Program has focused on identifying meaningful metrics, such as the number of youth attending recreation centers and participation rates, to measure progress on community health initiatives. At every stage of program development, IMPACT runs an evaluation to guide the strategies used to improve the community.
Goals get identified and supported with individual, organizational, and community-level objectives in mind. These objectives are evaluated on a tiered approach using developmental, formative, and summative evaluations, depending on the stage of the initiative. GSK takes their assessment a step further by evaluating the evaluations. The company partners with an independent organization to evaluate the overall IMPACT Grant Program by:
- Identifying key progress indicators
- Measuring true impact
- Creating a framework to plan future philanthropic efforts
Measuring the Value of Your Giving Programs
You can begin measuring impact in the charitable areas your program supports by identifying relevant metrics and partnering with recipient organizations to deliver these measurements. For example, if your company is committed to education and provides tutoring as well as financial support to local elementary schools, you can measure:
- Reading and math test scores
- Teacher retention rates
- Student repeat rates
- Student enrollment
- Standardized test scores
- Student and faculty attendance
- Student dropout rates
- Suspension rates
It’s important that the organizations you support have complete buy-in. Without their valuable feedback, it will be very difficult to measure your impact!
To help guide your evaluations, the CECP illustrates three techniques for measuring the value of community engagement programs:
- Formal Impact Evaluation: In this technique, evaluation metrics get taken before, during, and after programs to prove causality. Independent evaluators are typically used in this evaluation process for an objective take on impact.
- Outcome Measurement Evaluation: This evaluation approach tracks intermediate changes to estimate the final result. This can include before and after assessments but it doesn’t use control groups.
- Assessing Impact-Achievement Potential: This approach focuses on nonprofit capabilities and performance to increase the funder’s confidence that the organization is actually achieving the outcomes it claims.
Through consistent assessment and collaboration with nonprofits, your department will be prepared to better evaluate your programs’ societal and business value.