Winter 2015

Integrating social and business impact

Recent years have seen widespread cuts to public spending.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) estimates this has resulted in a £3.3bn reduction in UK public sector funding to the voluntary sector over the last five years. The corporate sector is playing an increasingly integral role in how Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations (VCSO’s) are funded and has begun to fill this void – not just through cash donations, but also through in-kind support.

Understanding the funding landscape

A change in this funding landscape has resulted in a change in how companies give. Ad hoc donations to popular causes or piecemeal company fundraising events are fast becoming a thing of the past. The general corporate mind-set, however, has still not yet fully shifted to focus on the value created rather than the total amount donated.

Abandoning short-term thinking

Whereas business operations are extensively analysed and fine tuned to minimise wastage on non value-creating activities, there is less emphasis on creating value from their Corporate Responsibility programmes. Consequently, opportunities are wasted and both business and social benefits are diluted in the long-term.

On the other hand, to compete for finite – and in the case of public funding, diminishing – funding pots, VSCO’s have had to robustly evidence the positive impact their work is having on society.

We believe that companies should be encouraged to focus on dual benefits: ‘how can we maximise the positive impact we have on society, whilst at the same time increase the benefits to our business?’ When companies start to measure and communicate the social impact they have, the effects become transformational and are more sustainable in the long term. This view  is supported through research by CECP which reveals that companies who measured the impact of their work reported an 18% jump in total giving.  CECP - the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy – is a coalition of CEOs united in the belief that societal improvement is an essential measure of business performance.

Maximising social and business impact

Rethinking the way your company approaches giving can be a daunting prospect. To assist our clients we often ask the simplest questions: “What is your company trying to achieve? What do you want your social legacy to be? What do you want to see happen to your bottom line?” We find that creating a Corporate Responsibility strategy and measuring activities without a clearly articulated sense of purpose loses meaning.

Utilising the Theory of Change model

Recently we supported a corporate client to identify what impact they wanted their Corporate Responsibility programme to have. We utilised a technique adopted by charities to articulate how they achieve their intended impact. Although using strategy maps is commonplace in business, using the ‘Theory of Change’ model, enabled our client to understand the causal relationships between the inputs, outputs and outcomes required to focus their investment and achieve the greatest social and business impact.

To find out more about how we can help your company measure and maximise your impact, please get in touch with our team by emailing advisory@cafonline.org.

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