As a business owner you want to know that the time, effort and resources you put into any business growth activity will have a return on your investment, right?
Making a difference in your community by donating time or money should be treated no differently.
What is the return on your investment?
There are a few reasons why you’re likely to be looking for more information on the ROI of your social good activity:
- You want to know that your donations are making a difference.
- You’re struggling to keep up with the number of requests your business gets for support.
- You have no clear ‘giving’ strategy – it just feels like the right thing to do.
- There are local causes that are pulling on your and your staff’s heartstrings, and you want to make a difference.
- You want to find a better way to make a difference in your community.
I understand. You want to feel confident that the impact you are having is making a real difference – one that you can share with your customers, staff and business partners.
Measuring ROI and the impact your social good will have?
We also know that not everything we do in the ‘giving’ space can be measured in a spreadsheet, and we have to be prepared to try a few things before we’re really able to see the full picture.
In order to maximise your impact, you will need to:
- believe that including social good activities as part of your everyday business activities is the right thing to do,
- work alongside the causes you support to find out what the difference is that has been made to the beneficiaries of their work, e.g. young people, the homeless, animals, the elderly.
On the topic of social good ROI, I want to help you to understand:
- the importance of measurement
- what to measure and when
- the ROI of social good activity, using case studies from other businesses
- how you can make changes in your own efforts so that your business can make a bigger impact in the community that you love, where you live and work.
So, if ROI is the difference between the amount of time, money or effort that you put into an activity and the outcome of that activity, ask yourself where you are now in terms of understanding that picture.
Well it can sometimes feel like this…
- your business puts a lot of time, money and effort into supporting local causes, but you never receive any feedback,
- you sometimes find out that your money has made a difference, but only when you ask or find out by chance, or
- you believe that there must be a better way to help local causes and make a bigger difference.
So why do you feel awkward or guilty asking for feedback from the causes you support?
It could be because you…
- don’t want to make the not-for-profit organisation feel like you don’t trust them,
- wouldn’t know what to do with the information, or
- think giving is enough, and your contribution is all it takes.
Imagine, though, if you were able to find out the impact of your business’s giving efforts.
What could you do with that information?
You could create a communication to share the great work that your organisation does in the local community.
Why? To show that you care, and to increase awareness of your work.
You could work out where best to offer support. Is it time, money or both?
Why? Because who wants to continue doing one thing when there is a better way?
You could decide that you want to create a longer-term partnership with a cause, one that aligns to your brand.
Why? Because you believe what they believe.
For example, if you’re an insurance broker who specialises in marine insurance, would it not make more sense to your brand if you were to support causes that are working to reduce ocean plastic pollution or marine conservation?
What to measure and when
So, what questions should you be asking a not-for-profit organisation in order to measure their impact?
Top 5 questions you can ask your cause:
- What social problem are they trying to solve?
- What do they do to solve that problem?
- Who experiences change in their lives as a result of what they do?
- What changes do they experience?
- How has your support helped?
You’re an organisation with a team of 25 that delivers leadership training. This year you gave £5000 to a local charity that supports young people with mental health challenges.
1. What problem are they trying to solve?
They’re trying to support young people to overcome any barriers and reach their potential.
2. What do they do to solve that problem?
They offer a three-tiered approach of therapy, youth work and coaching.
3. Who experiences changes in their lives as a result of what they do?
They young person themselves, their families, carers, friends and teachers.
4. What changes do they experience?
As a result of the services, young people experience a breakthrough in their confidence; their resilience increases, and they start to achieve at school; their home life is calmer and they start to plan their future.
5. How has your support helped?
Your donation paid for the part-time salary of a qualified psychotherapist, three hours per week, supporting two young people each week who have now gone into work and further education. In fact, the young person said, “I feel pure brilliant, thanks for everything, for the first time I’m excited for my future”.
Now, you know the difference you are making!
Now, you have clear evidence of the impact your donation is having.
Now, you can share that work with your team and your customers, perhaps in the form of an annual impact report.
Now you’re closer to the organisation and its work than before, you can decide if you want to continue to support them, perhaps in the form of a longer-term partnership
Now you can really start to make a difference.
If you would like to find out more about understanding how to measure the impact of your giving activities, please don’t hesitate to contact us.