Getting to Impact

Measuring your impact doesn't need to be a stumbling block to understanding the true performance of your CSR program
Mar 3, 2014 8:15 AM ET
Campaign: Getting to Impact

Getting to Impact

Similar to CEO Burt Cummings cocktail party conversation from last week, we talk to clients and other companies who are overwhelmed at the thought of collecting more data, even if that data could shed light on the efficacy of their entire philanthropy program.  Teams are so lean and mean that they barely have the bandwidth to report on organization-wide giving, much less take it a step further and collect data on how those donations are used and the numbers of people impacted.  They can't imagine having to go back to each group, collect the results, follow up with the ones that haven't responded, cull through the data to make sense of it and repeat this after each round of philanthropic investments.  Better to not ask in the first place.  Right?

Not so fast.  Rather than a sinkhole of time and energy, effectively measuring and managing your impact boils down to making a habit of asking the right questions each and every time you make a donation or grant.  Easier said than done, you say?  Let's break it down.  Conventional wisdom says it takes at least three weeks to establish a new habit, which can seem like an awfully long time when you're buried in work and with distractions aplenty.  However we're going to side with the local expert, noted Stanford social scientist and behavior researcher BJ Fogg, who disputes the three week idea, maintaining that new habits can be formed relatively quickly.  (Sidebar -- for some interesting reading, check out this article on Fogg's Tiny Habits project)

For Versaic clients, the habit-forming approach to measuring impact can be lightening fast.  It goes something like this -- tell us the questions you want to ask of the community groups and grantees you support and we'll make it happen.  Automatically.  Every time.

Specify how many days you want to wait before collecting follow up data.  Send a customized email to grantees and community groups with instructions about responding to impact questions.  Ask any questions in any format to gather the metrics you'll need to understand your impact.  No pestering by email or phone.  The system will automatically follow up until you have the response you require.  Impact data submitted is automatically associated with the original request or proposal for support and can be used to inform future decisions about that organization.  Once the data is collected, reports can be created in any format needed so that you and other decision makers in your company can really understand the benefit of your donations and demonstrate the strength of your corporate citizenship in the community.  The beauty of this approach is that once Versaic sets it up, the entire process runs automatically.  Now that's a habit that can be easy to make.