Corporate Social Responsibility programs have a notorious reputation. Many times, the general public thinks of CSR as another marketing effort, upper management looks at it as a department they are funding but have no idea how it is helping the company, & the rest of the company thinks it doesn’t concern them. Of course, that’s not the case with every company, but a lot of CSR heads struggle with this.
This makes monitoring & evaluation imperative for any company’s CSR program. If done well, it can help you attain transparency & show the impact you create with your CSR programs and attain legitimacy for your CSR project.
This article will talk about how you can evaluate your CSR program in a way that helps you show impact and become more effective.
Ideally, the evaluation process starts at the onset of any project. If you are running an impact project internally in your company, then that means choosing the Impact framework to measure the outcome or the impact of your project. Depending on your project, goals, requirement and capacity you could choose to solely use the Theory of Change. It will help you understand the outcomes or the impacts you create. Or else, you could go the extra mile and do a forecast & evaluative SROI analysis. SROI will allow you to go a step further from knowing the outcome to understanding the social value you created in monetary terms.
We have a few great podcasts talking about why SROI is important for companies and how to calculate it. Listen to those podcasts as well to understand the benefits and the method in more detail.
In our opinion, this is one of the most important steps that any company must do. No other metric or indicator can give you a clear & transparent picture of the impact you create with your CSR. Your evaluation will not be complete without this & will remain shallow.
Now, ideally using a thorough Impact Measurement framework like Theory of Change or SROI to evaluate, analyze and create the Impact Report is more than enough to see the impact you are creating, and communicating clear, transparent results to your stakeholders, customers & the general public. However, there are some other factors that can help you understand your company’s CSR better. These could be considered optional, but will definitely give you an edge over your peers.
1. Evaluating the synergy between your CSR program & your core business values
Preferably, your CSR activities should be aligned with your core business value. It allows you to leverage your existing strengths, skills, and mitigate the risk or negative value created by your business. However, it might not be the case currently for many companies. So evaluating how far along you are in the journey of aligning the two, can help you evaluate your current CSR program with a critical eye. It will help you understand the things which are missing from your current program to make it more integrated with your business, and chart a future course of action.
2. Evaluating how in-sync is the rest of your company with your CSR program
As a CSR team or people responsible for handling CSR programs, it is largely your responsibility to make sure that the values propagated by the CSR department are
- In sync with your company’s value
- The rest of your company knows them, understands them & lives by them.
That will help you make sure that you also decreasing the unintended negative impact created by your company. The impact of your CSR program will be multifold & increase the scope of your CSR more to the level of ESG – Environment, Social & Governance for your company. In addition, it will lead to wider acceptance of your team’s work among the rest of the company.
In order to do this, you might need to do quantitative or qualitative surveys to understand their current understanding, actions they take & even how satisfied they feel about the company’s CSR activities.
3. Comparing & benchmarking
Evaluating your own CSR program against other top performing companies in your sector & otherwise can help you benchmark yourself against top performers. One of the ways to do it is through secondary research. Another way is to let a third party do that assessment and benchmarking for you. Artemis Impact is one of the companies, which can help you with assessing and seeing where do you lie on the scale of Nascent to Socially leading companies in CSR, and where do other companies lie.
4. How Your Customers Perceive Your CSR Program
Now, last but not the least, seeing how your customers perceive your CSR program can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your program. Customers are the heart of every company and along with making sure your CSR aligns well with your business, it should also deal with issues that your customers feel strongly about. It could help you gain their support and it could help you engage them with your CSR program. One of the examples of a company doing that very effectively is The Body Shop Indonesia, which does not just involve its employees in volunteer programs but also their customers. That’s one of the reasons The Body Shop is counted as one of the top companies with effective CSR and high ESG.
These are the main points we think you should take into consideration while evaluating your company’s CSR and make it more effective.
If you have any questions about our Assessment & Advisory Services for corporates, then feel free to check out our website or get in touch with us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org