Top tips for CSR practitioners: why impact measurement is imperative not desirable

Published25th April 2018

It is evident that Corporate Social Responsibility is steadily becoming a key aspect of business functioning, with shared-values and community engagement acting as core means in which to boost business revenue and improve local business reputation.

It is evident that Corporate Social Responsibility is steadily becoming a key aspect of business functioning, with shared-values and community engagement acting as core means in which to boost business revenue and improve local business reputation.

According to the 2017 Annual Investor Survey, 26% of respondents track some or all of their impact investments with respect to the SDGs, and another third plan to in the near future. This trend is also evident within BITC’s Education programmes, with a number of businesses within our network inquiring about the best ways to measure the impact of their various Education programmes. Therefore, it proved vital to create an easy to use impact measurement process that we could share with our schools and businesses alike.

Becoming Inspiring Impact Champions has been incredibly useful. Attending the champions forums and learning from other organisations has allowed us to informally benchmark our processes and develop straightforward approaches for businesses to measure the impact of their CSR programmes.

For all our CSR practitioners and socially conscious businesses, our top tips for embedding impact measurement practises is as follows.

  1. First things first… Remember that impact measurement is useful and beneficial. It provides you with a wealth of knowledge and marketing material and helps you to assess whether your programme is having the impact that you would like it to have.
  2. It is important to establish the purpose, aims and objectives of your programme. This will help you to choose the appropriate measurement tools and develop the correct processes to measure your impact.
  3. Once the purpose, aims and objectives of a programme has been established, think about the measurement tools appropriate to your audience/users. If you are aiming to measure the impact of your programme on children and young people, make sure the measurement tools you use are children and young people friendly.
  4. Try to use a mixed methods approach. Don’t just use a survey. Use a combination of case studies, photos, quotes, and other visuals in addition to numbers. This goes a long way in demonstrating the various impacts that your programme is having.
  5. Before collecting any data, read up on the overarching data protection guidelines, available on the Information Commissioners Office website. Also consider the impending GDPR changes, more information is available here.
  6. Always communicate to your respondents why you are collecting this data and where it is going.  Let them know why this is important and what their data will be used for.
  7. If you are considering utilising surveys, make sure you have access to an online survey data collection system. This enables you to generate survey links which reduces the need for manually inputting data, and automatically collates all of the responses in one format. More on how to create and analyse surveys here.
  8. Once you have collected your data, where possible interpret the data within a team. The different perspectives present will go some way in counteracting any misinterpretations of the data.
  9. Be transparent with your findings. Sometimes you might not be able to demonstrate all of the impact that your programme has, or your programme may be having an undesirable impact. However, be transparent about this, and be sure to mention the changes that you will be making in the future to overcome these challenges.
  10. And last but not least, remember that impact measurement takes time and is a journey.  New processes have to be embedded and results are typically generated over a set time period.

Therefore, be patient, develop a methodical approach and take it one step at a time. Make sure you use the data you collect to inform your services and your impact practice as you learn.

Further reading: Impactsupport.org

by Arooj Khan, Research and Knowledge Manager at Business in the Community

Sign-up to the principles

We need your help to put principles into practice