I have the benefit of talking to a diverse range of CSR and Community Investment managers in a whole range of industries which gives me a great overview of the day to day issues they face.
Yet I’ve noticed that a couple of themes are industry-agnostic. One is that community support, whether this be volunteering, donations or in-kind support, is now integral to almost all companies’ CSR strategies; with a growing understanding of how an active community programme can boost employee engagement and brand reputation.
The other is that, now that community investment strategies are in place, managers are coming under increasing pressure to measure, understand the impact and accurately report on the work that is being done. And this makes perfect sense – from a corporate viewpoint where Return on Investment is king, why wouldn’t the executive management want to know the benefit of the time and resources being spent? From a manager’s viewpoint, how can you know that your strategy is working if you don’t benchmark its performance? And from a community standpoint, providing information on the impact of corporate giving has been shown to increase the likelihood of future support.
That’s all well and good but the impact measurement and reporting of community investment is tricky. Firstly, CSR teams tend to be pretty stretched so finding additional time to capture more data / do more admin is difficult. Secondly, most CSR managers sit centrally but their initiatives cut across the entire company, so collecting accurate data from a dispersed workforce or across multiple countries is, frankly, nigh on impossible using traditional phone calls and emails and the time they have available. And finally, measurement of community impact doesn’t rely solely on stats, it requires additional, subjective measures of benefit that are difficult to capture on spreadsheets.
Thankfully over the last year we have seen a strong trend with CSR managers throwing out their old manual processes and embracing software to help get more useful insights, in a shorter period of time.
This has become so important to the sector that Business in the Community (NI) has to chosen to partner with us (Thrive) because these types of tools are now something their membership are demanding.
At Thrive we have unique, easy to use, software that helps centrally capture data and gather feedback. It’s something, as a business, we are very focused on and excited about.
Once a ‘project’ is in our system, the system can automatically follow up with participants and beneficiaries using both email and text message. And the return of data is ‘friction-free’ and can even be done through short surveys straight from their smartphone. The result has been amazing. Companies like Coca Cola HBC and Virgin Trains have been receiving response rates of over 75% with ZERO time input from their CSR team. And the information they are uncovering is invaluable for their quarterly and annual reports and helping to shape the future direction of their community investment strategy.
Using a software solution, like Thrive, to automatically capture your community investment activity and to understand its impact is now a no-brainer. Our experience shows you can slash your admin time, spend more time on strategy and active community engagement work, have full oversight on your activities and their impact and easily report to internal and external stakeholders.