Data-Driven Storytelling: Is your Company Collecting the Right Data to tell its CSR Story?

Recently, we welcomed two thought-leaders in the CSR space Christina Bowen (VP at Good Done Great) and Cynthia Figge (COO/Cofounder of CSRHub and Cofounder of EKOS International) as co-hosts for a webinar discussing data-driven storytelling.

We had an overwhelming number of engaged attendees from across the country! If you weren’t able to attend, don’t fret! This post will provide you with the highlights from this informative discussion on how to collect the correct CSR data, analyze it, and share it with both external and internal stakeholders.

Prior to the presentation, we reported findings from two questions asked of our webinar registrants:

1) How do you collect your CSR data?

  • Spreadsheets 54%
  • CSR Software 31%
  • Access Database 5%
  • Don’t collect data 4%
  • Paper 3%

The majority of our audience realized the importance of data, and 31% even utilize a CSR software to manage and track this data!

2) How do you communicate your CSR story to your stakeholders?

  • CSR Report 23%
  • Email 4%
  • Website 4%
  • Social Media 3%
  • E-Newsletters 1%
  • All of the above 64%

Our first presenter, Christina, is a huge proponent of sharing your CSR story with internal and external stakeholders. It was great to see that the majority of our registrants communicate their story using both traditional and new media.

I. The Importance of Data

Christina began the webinar discussing the importance of data to tell your CSR story. She discussed how data points are the proof points that demonstrate how your company shows up in the communities where you do business. Data points provide meaningful and powerful information to your CSR statements. With data, CSR statements are believable. With quantitative data, a CSR story becomes more substantive. She provided the following examples:

  • Number of people impacted through your CSR programs
    • Meals served
    • Houses built
    • Immunizations provided
    • Coats or toys collected
    • Computers donated
  • Total dollars contributed
  • Total volunteer hours logged
  • Total dollars matched by your company

With robust, data-driven statements, your CSR content is more likely to be picked up by media. Additionally, it delivers proof to your stakeholders, including current and potential employees, that your company is a socially responsible business.

Christina also discussed the importance of identifying the story you want to tell. Is there a social injustice you’re trying to correct? Is it important to reduce your environmental footprint? Are you trying to create a more vibrant economy in your community?

She went on to say that after you identify the story you want to tell, you must leverage it appropriately. Review data on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis and evaluate how it will support your programs and initiatives. After you strategically collect your data and analyze it, you are ready to share it with the world via traditional and social media.

II. Benchmarking and More

After Christina’s dynamic conversation, Cynthia provided information on benchmarking and ratings.  In today’s world, business managers are under pressure to report CSR performance. Even if you don’t provide data to the media, your company is still rated and covered!

Companies receive data requests from a variety of sources including ESG research firms, supply chain systems and industry organizations, and activists and NGOs. With all these requests, it’s important to ensure accurate data.

Along with the influx of requests to receive CSR data, the need to know CSR performance is increasing. From business managers to consumers and investors, CSR data provides vital information on activism, research, and social impact.

CSR Performance

In addition to the six markets featured above, it’s important not to overlook your employees and customers.

The CSRHub platform maps, aggregates, and normalizes data from stakeholders. The platform collects 5,000 data types and 73 million data points from 402 sources. CSRHub maps this data to four categories: Community, Employees, Environment, and Governance.

CSRHub and Good Done Great

Cynthia noted that CSRHub has collected data since 2008. Since this year, the depth and breadth of data has changed to include human rights and climate change. Today, the data is much richer.

A question that CSRHub and Cynthia receives often from CSR professionals is: do we increase our risk by providing data? CSRHub believes in the full circle benefits of external reporting. CSRHub compared companies in their database reporting according to GRI guidelines to those who did not. A strong statistical improvement of perception exists if the company does report based upon GRI guidelines. [pullquote]A strong statistical improvement of perception exists if the company does report based upon GRI guidelines.[/pullquote]

Toward the end of the presentation, Christina noted how corporations are the intersection of human and financial resources. When we can successfully combine these two resource groups, business truly is the strongest driver of social change. Real and reliable data allows for a powerful story which legitimizes our efforts and motivates us to continue our work.

Thanks to Christina and Cynthia for such an informative discussion! If you would like to view the presentation, please click here.