By Burt Cummings
According to the Council on Foundations (COF) report, Increasing Impact & Enhancing Value, corporate philanthropy is as vital as ever to business and society. And yet corporate leaders are under increasing pressure to connect the value of their programs with performance drivers that matter in the business. They must demonstrate that their philanthropic investment is both effective and aligned with business outcomes.
Quantifying results is not always easy, and many leaders struggle to measure the social impact of their programs. While they’ve often identified broad focus areas for their program, they can find it difficult to create clear social impact metrics that can bridge their philanthropic outcomes to their business strategy.
There are no universally accepted metrics for measuring either the social impact of philanthropy or the return on investment (ROI) of philanthropic initiatives. Each company is unique in both their social impact goals and in their requirements for how to demonstrate the ROI. It can be difficult to translate the large-scale vision of what they hope to achieve into tangible success measures. They struggle to find effective ways to track changes in behavior or condition for the nonprofits and community members they serve.
Versaic client Starwood Hotels & Resorts is an example of an organization committed to investing the time and resources necessary to put a corporate philanthropy program in place that delivers significant value to the community as well as to the company and its employees. Starwood worked with Versaic and the Rensselaerville Institute (TRI) to develop a results-focused approach and implementation plan for its corporate philanthropy initiatives.
Starwood’s primary objective was to employ new tools that would automate the process and improve its ability to track, quantify and evaluate impact. The company's system is now live, and as a result, its philanthropy team has freed up time and gathered better data so they can have more productive interactions with grantees and effectively measure the results of Starwood's programs .
Here are some of the key things we learned about how to design and implement a successful program from our journey with Starwood and TRI:
Here are some basic questions to ask when establishing a result framework:
Starwood’s application process and communication system process addresses the following needs:
When you take this approach, you’ll respond more effectively to the needs of your community partners, your stakeholders and your social investing team while at the same time increase your impact. It certainly worked for Starwood. Read the full story of Starwood’s journey, Going From Strategy to Impact to learn more.
Image credit: Thomas Lefebvre via Unsplash
Burt Cummings - Burt has served as Versaic’s CEO since 2006 and has extensive experience as a leader in the technology sector. Whether it’s grant management, corporate philanthropy, sponsorship management or sustainability programs, Versaic solutions streamline processes, improve CSR impact and ROI and enhance social engagement with client brands.
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