Data: The Backbone of CSR

“Data is what distinguishes the dilettante from the artist.” George V. Higgins

American author, lawyer, and professor, George Higgins, got it right. In today’s world, without data or the successful analysis of data, your business and your business leaders are not taken seriously nor are you on the pathway to success.

The good news is that you are sitting on a plethora of data. Within your donor database or employee engagement tool, you have information on the number of participants in your CSR programs, the number of nonprofit organizations that have received support, the location of these organizations, and much more. If you aren’t receiving this type of data from your corporate philanthropy tools, we need to talk.

Why is data so important? Here are three reasons why you need data in your CSR programs:

1) Data legitimizes your corporate philanthropy programs.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

Example A: The Good Done Great Foundation contributed over $1.2 million in funding to nonprofit organizations in 2015.

Example B: The Good Done Great Foundation contributed $1.2 million in funding to 500 organizations throughout 48 states. These organizations provided 520 hours of tutoring to at-risk youth which increased their reading levels to the appropriate grade level.

Which of these statements is more impactful?

As you start to pepper your CSR communications with more data, your programs become more impactful and meaningful. You will understand your CSR impact and inspire your stakeholders in the process.

2) Data demonstrates which programs work and which programs do not.

Time is money, and CSR professionals don’t have a lot of time or money to back unsuccessful programs. Dive deep into your data, and uncover the facts behind your programs.

Is the participation rate in your matching gift program 6?% (Below the median employee participation rate according to CECP). Is your volunteer participation rate high in the Southeast region of the US but low in the Midwest?

Use your data to determine where to spend your time and dollars.

3) Data paints a colorful picture of your brand.

As you dig deep into your employee giving data, you will begin to paint a picture of your employees and therefore- your brand.

Do the majority of your employees support animal-related charities? Are they more likely to volunteer at schools or at homeless shelters?

What does their support of these causes say about your company as a whole? How can you bring attention to these causes in a bigger way?

Analyze your data, and use it to communicate who you are as a company to your stakeholders.

As CSR increasingly permeates each department, data becomes even more important in communicating the impact of your sustainability programs. Use data to paint a picture of your employees, your brand, and the issues that matter most to your organization. Data is a powerful tool, and the deeper you dive into it, the more powerful data-driven story you will tell.