How To Make Volunteerism Shine in Your CSR Report

Oct 26, 2012 11:30 AM ET

Volunteering is CSR

This summer, we conducted an in-depth review of employee volunteer programs by analyzing the corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports of more than 40 large domestic and internationally recognized businesses.

Our research had us thinking through the techniques used to effectively communicate the impacts of corporate volunteer initiatives, and which of these help produce clear, eye-catching reports. We unearthed a few examples of companies doing this well, and offer the following tips to organizations looking to highlight volunteerism in their next CSR reports:

Build an Experience
AT&T has designed a wonderfully interactive site packed with great insights into their philanthropic endeavors. Their community initiatives are represented by a cartoon neighborhood with clickable animations that unfold to give you a look inside recent achievements. External links are also provided to connect the viewer to more detailed reports.

This interactive style keeps the audience entertained with information that may be hard to absorb from dense text alone. It also helps express the company’s pride in their efforts; they are willing to create an accessible site that deeply involves viewers and wholly illustrates the corporate mission.

Be Bold
Another easy and effective technique is to include highlights of striking program accomplishments. Genworth Financial’s community report provides an excellent example of this volunteer reporting style. Statistics describing annual hours donated, projects completed and nonprofit partnerships are boldly displayed as extra-large section dividers. The sections following the bold statistics contain a variety of case studies, stories and quotes to corroborate report findings.

Adding these personal insights allowed Genworth to transform a modest PDF into a riveting account of corporate community involvement that any audience can relate to.

Picture It
Infographics have conquered the bar chart, and for good reason. Skimming through FedEx’s interactive Community & Disaster Relief Metrics is all the viewer must do to gain a clear perspective on the company’s engagement efforts. The graphics provide an easy interpretation of otherwise overwhelming data and add a contemporary feel to the report. Take a look at how we at VolunteerMatch put this technique to use with our annual report infographic.

Another example is Arbor Day Foundation’s attention-grabbing community report, which is loaded with vibrant images of volunteerism. The document is pleasing to the eye, which might not seem like much, but really goes a long way in a 30+ page report. The photographs help to take pressure off the text and give the reader a firsthand glimpse into company projects.

Giving back to the community is an important aspect of a healthy business, and reporting on goals and accomplishments is just as significant. However you choose to portray company engagement is up to you, just make sure to share your story! We would love to hear more about your reporting tips, and what you’re doing to communicate to and engage your audiences.

Elyse Bernstein is a Marketing & Insights Intern at VolunteerMatch.You can find her on Twitter @aleafbsting.