Evaluation Tools to Measure your CSR Impact

This post is part three of a three-part series entitled Workplace Giving… Simplifed. Check out the other posts in this series: 

Activation Tactics to Light the Fire of Giving within your Employees

CSR Strategies for a Sustainable and Impactful Program


Throughout our Workplace Giving… Simplified webinar series, we’ve discussed the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement, the components of a CSR strategy, and basic and creative ways to excite and engage employees.

After your program concludes, how do you know if it was a success? In the final installment of our series, Steve Greenhalgh discussed evaluation tools and techniques to measure your impact.

First, we will discuss the traditional, tried and true CSR metrics:

1) Total dollars raised

How many dollars did your employee giving program raise? What are your growth patterns? Are you noticing any increases?

This statistic should be easy to determine and is a good starting point to define success and gauge programmatic growth.

2) Employee participation rates in giving and volunteering programs

Most companies use this metric as a standard indication of CSR success.

3) Volunteer hours

It can be challenging to ensure your employees log their volunteer hours in your employee engagement technology tool. If this metric is important to you, keep these tips in mind:

a) Is it easy for your employees to log their volunteer hours? Do your employees have to remember to log their hours once they return home from work? Is your platform intuitive?

b) Is there an incentive? Why are you asking your employees to log their hours? Are they working towards receiving a dollars for doers grant? Provide them with a reason or an award or recognition for logging their hours.

c) How is the volunteer data being used? Employees can be skeptical as to why you are asking for this information. Be transparent and share with them how you plan to use the data.

What do the industry metrics tell us about success?

Employee participation rates in CSR programs

According to the data above provided by CECP, we aren’t doing so well as an industry. How can you defend your programs to the C-Suite if the industry’s average participation rate for payroll deduction campaigns is only 35%? There must be other metrics that you can use which will shine the light of success on your program.

When you are evaluating your programs and determining whether or not they were successful, keep two things in mind:

1) Define what’s important to YOUR company

Don’t compare your metrics with other companies’ metrics. Think about the recognition you want to receive for your program, and determine metrics which will reflect this recognition.

2) Focus on outcomes, not just numbers

What are you really achieving through your workplace giving or volunteering programs? Are you making a difference, or are you just logging hours for the sake of logging hours? If you aren’t providing real value to the communities in which you live, work, and play, then your programs may not be worth the effort.

If you are eager to move beyond just participation rates and volunteer hours, think about other measures of success:

1) CSR and employee engagement are embedded within the culture of the company

Are your employees empowered to participate in your CSR programs? Do they believe the programs are valued, or do they view participation as expected?

2) Objectives are clear and communicated throughout the company

It’s important to communicate objectives surrounding your CSR programs – especially volunteerism. Leadership needs to demonstrate their support for the programs through their actions and words.

3) Leadership is authentically involved

Your employees want to know that their efforts are appreciated. Leadership must be involved in order to demonstrate authenticity and value for your employees’ gifts of time, talent, and treasure.

4) Engagement programs support employees’ personal passions and interests

Are you surveying employees either formally or informally to determine their favorite cause areas? Are you collecting anecdotal data? If you incorporate their personal passions and interests, they will be more committed to the success of the program.

5) Creation of strategic partnerships with key nonprofit organizations

Take a look at your partner charities. Do they align with your philanthropic goals? Do they allow your employees to engage in volunteer opportunities? Do they allow your leadership to serve as board members? Engage in a dialogue with them to ensure your meeting your own goals while contributing to their mission.

6) Increase in employee satisfaction

How do your employees feel about your programs? If they are satisfied with your programs, the volunteer hours and donations will demonstrate that.

7) Positive impact on retention and recruitment

As the socially-conscious millennials enter the workforce, it’s important to have programs in place which will attract top talent. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Net Impact, 35% of respondents noted how they would take a pay cut to work for a company committed to CSR.

8) Expanding positive digital footprint

Are employees talking about you in a positive way? Are they becoming spokespeople about your good works? Employees are willing and eager to share their volunteering experiences. Research even shows that employees will use company-provided hashtags.  

9) Receiving external recognition for commitment and involvement

Companies are no longer afraid to share their volunteering and giving stories. As stakeholders and shareholders demand to learn more about the CSR efforts of the largest companies, sharing CSR stories becomes an expectation. Be proud of your accomplishments!

It’s easy to become bogged down in participation rates and volunteer hour figures, but it’s important to keep in mind what really matters in CSR – engagement and impact.

Find what works for you and your employees and provide them with the tools to give and volunteer. If they feel passionate about your programs, you will meet your own meaning of success!

This post was authored by Steve Greenhalgh, Managing Director of CSR Strategy.