Corporate responsibility (CR) has been a necessary element of doing business for years. Large companies set up private foundations and giving programs, while small and medium sized companies fought to compete with more limited resources.
But regardless of size, it’s been rare for companies to quantify their CR efforts by their effect on business performance. That’s becoming easier as more tools empower small- and medium-sized companies (such as those with 5-500 employees) to compete with big business giving efforts without exhausting their resources.
The surge in consumer and employee influence is also taking effect, making it easier to measure business impact. Today, up to 87 percent of US consumers prefer buying from conscious brands¹ while 51 percent of employees won’t work for companies that aren’t responsible.²
That’s the vast majority of your market and over half your talent pool, not to mention the likelihood that the best employees are part of that 51 percent. Top tier, results-oriented workers have the luxury of choosing their company.
We can now clearly measure the market demand for corporate responsibility initiatives, but many companies still struggle to define how CR programs impact their business. That’s a priority for the majority of organizations. In a recent survey, 72 percent of companies reported that the most important way to improve impact measurement was through business and ROI metrics³, including brand awareness and reputation along with customer and employee-related metrics.
How Corporate Giving Platforms Help Measure Business Impact
Corporate giving platforms are responding to the demand for metrics with features and measurement tools that connect directly to business results. It’s a different approach to corporate philanthropy, but one that will improve both your impact and your impact measurement.
Here are five features of innovative corporate philanthropy tools that will improve your business.
1. Charity Databases
For companies to receive tax benefits and ensure their workplace giving programs meet legal requirements, they typically give to 501(c)(3) charities. Donating to a charity without this status can lead to financial penalties, foregone tax deductions, and reputation issues. As a result, many companies spend significant time and resources researching charities and verifying 501(c)(3) status.
A corporate giving platform with a charity database can greatly accelerate this process, reducing administration and increasing productivity as employees spend more time on other initiatives. Charity databases include listings of federally approved charities. While some charity databases are more comprehensive than others, the best options are extensive, containing all 501(c)(3) charities in the United States.
By using the database to quickly find approved charities, administrative and HR employees can spend less time and energy on individual donations, employee matching gift approval processes, and other manual tasks. This reduces the barrier to participating, helping you increase employee engagement while improving efficiency and productivity. Most importantly, however, a comprehensive charity database prevents costly mistakes that could hurt your business’s reputation and result in financial penalties.
2. Matching Gift Administration
Seventy-eight percent of employees want to engage with CSR. Employee matching gifts are one of the best ways for them to get involved. Unfortunately, a massive $4-7 billion in matching gift funds is unclaimed each year4. Such a massive disconnect in funding versus employee engagement is indicative of the ineffective internal processes that many companies use.
For example, many matching gift requests take months to complete because they require charity research, staff approval, manual percentage calculations, and manual documentation both inside the organization and with the charity. The result is that many employees don’t participate, so businesses fail to improve engagement or make an impact on causes and the market.
A corporate giving platform can make a big difference here. First, it can automate giving processes while streamlining approval, access, and implementation, making it easier for employees to participate. This improves efficiency and increases overall donations; one in three donors say they give more when matching is applied to their gifts5.
As a result of the corporate giving program, businesses increase employee engagement, which is linked directly to productivity6, and make a greater impact on causes, positioning companies as valued corporate citizens.
3. Student Loan Repayment Management
A recent Forbes’ feature called student loan repayment the “hottest employee benefit” in HR7. Statistics support this claim: 86 percent of employees would commit to a company in exchange for five years of student loan repayment8, showing an incredible level of support.
Unfortunately, repaying student loans can be just as time consuming and resource intensive as matching gift programs, reducing their business impact. Between keeping track of individual loans, as well as working with multiple banks, there’s a lot of work for HR and CSR staff to do.
But the best corporate philanthropy tools support multiple types of corporate giving, including student loan repayment. Like with matching gifts, corporate giving platforms can automate parts of your repayment program while making it easier for employees to participate.
For example, if student loan repayment is offered to employees who volunteer, software can help distribute rewards automatically. The tools available in a dedicated platform can make it more feasible for companies without a full HR or CSR team to implement a repayment program that improves their ability to compete for and retain talent.
4. Grant Management
There’s a theme to the challenges companies face with CR and giving initiatives: many of them require extensive time and resources to implement and manage. Grant management is another of the more time- and labor-intensive tasks businesses take on. It’s why corporate giving platforms include grant management tools and 63 percent of companies without a corporate giving platform believe they could benefit from one with grant management functionality9.
Workplace giving software can help you manage and distribute grants applications in your community. They can also combine multiple grants to an NFP organization into a single grant to simplify the process as well as organizing information, and documenting past, present, and future grants, simplify corporate giving processes and improve productivity. By creating simpler, less resource-intensive processes, you can reduce the cost and time it takes to award grants, making a bigger impact that builds brand equity.
Millennials are twice as likely to rate corporate culture as “very positive” if they can engage in workplace volunteer activities10, a sentiment that’s often echoed in other generations. To this end, effective volunteer management tools can help increase employee engagement in several ways.
The best corporate giving platforms will help you start a new volunteer program (or improve the one you already have). They include multiple tools for engaging employees, such as providing “paid” volunteer programs where the company donates to employees’ chosen charities based on the time they spend volunteering. They may also include volunteer time off (VTO) and tracking tools so both employees and HR staff can track volunteer efforts.
An effective volunteer program contributes directly to your corporate philanthropy benefits by increasing employee morale and improving corporate culture, boosting productivity and performance across the board. It also impacts your business’s reputation and community awareness. Seeing corporate employees volunteering for charities is a powerful way to ensure consumers know about your business and view it in a positive light.
Use Benchmarking to Measure and Communicate Business Impact
Corporate giving platforms are evolving from purely donation-based tools to comprehensive corporate responsibility enablers. More importantly, they’re helping blur the line between CR and business performance.
The best platforms now provide features, like those above, that help you achieve results that improve your business performance, including:
- Increased employee engagement, efficiency, and productivity
- Better brand awareness and reputation to drive sales
- Strong corporate culture and benefits that attract and retain talent
Corporate giving platforms includes tracking and reporting tools to help you quantify your efforts and connect it to business value, but the most compelling business case hinges on benchmarking. Determine what metrics are important to your business performance, such as productivity, sales, and employee retention. Measure those KPIs before improving your CR efforts with a giving platform, then compare to results from after platform implementation.
Start tracking KPIs immediately, watching carefully as your program matures. You should see a steady improvement as employees and staff start using your corporate giving platform, driving business performance and helping your company gain market share.