Impact Assessment: Ensuring Corporate Philanthropy Counts

Jayesh Shah

In my role at Corporate Citizenship companies often ask me how to start measuring the impact they have on society.

Through applying the LBG measurement model, businesses are able to categorise their corporate philanthropy activity in terms of the type, amount and focus of their investments.

Some are also measuring and reporting on key outputs metrics, such as the number of individuals directly reached through their activities.

However, to truly understand the effectiveness of community involvement activities and tell a compelling story to stakeholders, companies increasingly recognise that that they need to measure the impact they have on society.

So how are we going to measure impact? At this point, the best thing to do is pause for thought. This might sound counterintuitive. However, in recent years a number of companies have made bold public commitments to impact targets without first considering how this could be realised.

Our advice is to consider two key questions that will help to shape any approach to impact:

  1. When and where do you want to measure impact?

Not even leading companies try to measure the impact of everything they do in society. They recognise that impact assessment is more effective when applied to longer term partnerships, where you can attribute changes in individuals and society back to your engagement.

The level of investment, the depth of engagement or the type of activity are just some of the ways to help decide when and where to begin impact measurement.

  1. What mechanisms are in place to facilitate measurement?

Recognising the change you are making and developing measurable indicators is only half of the challenge. The next step is to find methods to obtain the quantitative or qualitative data to support your theory.

Effective impact measurement across a community program usually involves a combination of working with partners to support primary data collection and capitalising on existing assessment that is already taking place.

Considering these two questions and using a framework to quantify the results, will go some to ensuring that you undertake an effective approach to impact assessment.

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