The Why, What and How of Purpose
Led Social Impact
This is part two in a three part series distilling our research and what we’ve heard around
1. WHY should corporates adopt a purpose led approach to social impact?
2. WHAT does best practice, purpose led social impact look like?
3. HOW can corporates embed social purpose within their organisations?
So we can continue to build upon this, let us know how what practices have worked for you to gain more and better social impact in your program. We'll be sure to incorporate these insights in future editions
For those who prefer to read plain text, here's an excerpt below from Part Two of our three part series on the WHY, WHAT and HOW of purpose led corporate giving.
To better understand how a purpose led approach can revolutionise the corporate giving landscape in Australia, this three part series distils research around three key questions:
1. WHY should corporates adopt a purpose led approach to giving?
2. WHAT does best practice, purpose led social impact look like?
3. HOW can corporates embed social purpose within their organisations?
Part 3 will be released shortly, be first to get it by subscribing to our newsletter
In Part 1 of this eBook series we focused on why corporates should adopt a purpose led approach to giving, providing evidence to show that leading programs grow consumer loyalty, enhance employee engagement and increase shareholder value.
Now that you have the business case to make it a leadership priority within your organisation, Part 2 focuses on the various components of a better practice corporate social impact program.
And we use the word impact here very intentionally.
Our more recent conversations and research have led us to move away from the term “corporate giving” and towards “corporate social impact” as this talks to the heart of why giving programs exist: to make a positive impact on global communities, and those in which we work and live. Giving is too narrow a definition (often just referring to donations) and is just an input to what these programs are ultimately trying to achieve - to help solve some of the most pressing problems of our time.
Corporate social impact programs go beyond just giving, and include things such as volunteering, sharing of in kind goods & services and helping employees become everyday changemakers by adapting personal habits to have a more positive impact on the world (e.g. keep cups in place of disposable coffee cups).
You’ll notice us slowly move away from the term “corporate giving” and towards the term “corporate social impact”, as we embark on this journey of language and behavioural change. In line with this, we’ve updated our definition of what Purpose led social impact is.
Purpose led corporate social impact is strategic investment and behavioural change that drive more and better outcomes for causes that resonate with an organisation’s core business, and its stakeholders (consumers, employees, shareholders).
To maximise outcomes, organisations should not just focus on encouraging more social investment (e.g. more giving), but ensuring these resources are invested for better outcomes (e.g. better giving). There is no one size fits all approach to what a leading corporate social impact program looks like, but this instalment will touch on various elements that lead to more and better social impact.
The insights that have informed this piece have been gathered over the last 18 months from our conversations with corporates, charities, and leveraging local and international research.
During this research we’ve captured all of the secret tactics and better practices that are setting leading organisation apart, honing in on the most distinguishing features of high performing corporate impact programs.
That said, it is also worth understanding that best practices are not silver bullets. They can often appear underwhelming, and simply common sense (e.g. joint KPI’s between corporates and their charity partners).
However, what sets leading organisations apart from their peers is that they are actually employing these practices to generate more and better impact
As with all our work, we’d love to hear from you as to what you’ve seen drive more and better impact. So be sure to get in touch and we’ll include these in our future publications.
NOTE: This eBook does not touch on sponsorships for NFP’s, ethical procurement or shared value as these topics relate to activity traditionally owned outside of the corporate impact function.
To drive tangible outcomes in the social impact space, it’s not just about providing more investment to the social sector, but ensure this investment is used more effectively to yield better impact (1).
Only too often, we see corporates invest a lot of time and money organising group volunteering days to improve their participation figures. However, in some instances these types of volunteering efforts generate little value for charities, and one could argue that this type of “corporate tourism” is more of a hindrance than a help. An example of more giving directed ineffectively to yield little impact.
In this section we’ve pulled together the elements that inspire more social investment, and how to then channel these resources in a way that generates better outcomes.
By integrating practices that don’t just generate more investment, but also better investment, your corporate impact program will deliver greater strategic outcomes for both your charity partners and your own organisation, to set your program up for success.
More Social Investment + Better Social Investment = More & Better Social Impact
More Social Investment
Better Social Investment
See below for detailed description of each best practice.
Now that we’ve covered off on the elements of a successful social impact program, let’s see they work in practice. In Part 1 we introduced the fictional company Paper for Purpose. After realising considerable return on their corporate social impact program, Paper for Purpose decided to revisit their strategy to see if they could generate greater impact. This review uncovered a number of opportunities, with them deciding to initially focus on two priorities.
1. Employee led causes
2. More ways to contribute (daily changemakers)
Employee Led Causes
After realising the productivity and retention benefits associated with volunteering, Paper for Purpose revisited their volunteering targets with the intent to increase participation from 28% to 38%.
They spoke with employees who had not volunteered to understand it was because the corporate flagship cause didn’t connect with these individuals on an emotional level.
After surveying their employees, it became clear that the majority of the factory workers are from low socio economic areas, some displaced refugees. Three headline causes were selected - affordable housing, youth education and refugees, and each were underpinned by a leading charity.
These charities had an array of meaningful general and skilled volunteering opportunities available, with many employees signing up for various activities, including
More ways to contribute (daily changemakers)
The employee survey also discovered that volunteering and donations wasn’t for everyone, however most did want to have a positive impact on the planet. After delving deeper, Paper for Purpose looked at the habits of their 5,000 employees and found that many of them enjoyed barista made coffee. Despite having a great recycling program, Paper for Purpose was shocked to find out that Australians send 1 billion takeaway coffee cups to landfill every year.
They started an internal marketing campaign to encourage their employees to use keep cups for their morning coffee, instead of single-use takeaway cups. As part of the campaign they procured Paper for Purpose branded keep cups to make it easy for them to avoid using disposable cups.
The survey indicated that 60% of its employees drank coffee most days. Paper for Purpose targeted its campaign to these employees and offered them a voucher for a free coffee if they bought a Paper for Purpose keep cup for $10. 2,000 employees took up the offer and bought a keep cup. Not only did they feel a sense of fulfillment, they were proud ambassadors for the social efforts of their organisation both in and outside of work hours.
Measuring Outcomes & ROI
Twelve months later Paper for Purpose carried out their annual Outcomes and ROI report, then presented the findings to their Executive. They were pleased to report
Improved Social Outcomes
Along with the ongoing reforestation work carried out by the team (674 football fields forested pa), they managed
The return on investment for the program was also measured to assess the organisational benefits for Paper for Purpose.
While additional investment of 1 FTE and associated promotional material was required to support the expanded program, the organisation realised the following benefits
Delighted with the social and organisational return their program was generating, the Executive saw the value and requested a multi-year roadmap of activity and investment forecast to continue their work.
Given the fundamental foundation for a successful corporate social impact program is an underlying social impact strategy, we thought we’d help you get started.
You may have heard about the Business Model Canvas, the global standard organisations of all sizes use to design and challenge their business model. Purposed have created something similar, but with a focus on social impact.
The Purpose Led Social Impact Blueprint helps organisations large and small design, challenge and articulate their social impact strategy - all on a single page.
This will come in handy to describe your program at a high level to your leadership team, employees or external stakeholders to demonstrate why social impact is important to your organisation, what you are doing about it and how you will measure success. (refer ebook for blueprint example)
All the elements of a corporate social impact program we have covered in this eBook are designed to form part of a better practice toolkit that you can use in establishing or reviewing your social impact program.
Use the toolkit to assess where you are now, and where you want to be. From here you can select the practices that are going to suit your organisation’s unique circumstances, and prioritise what is most important.
Now you know WHY generating impact is important for your organisation, and you know WHAT it takes to do this. Stay tuned for the final Part 3 in this eBook series focused on HOW to embed purpose led social impact into your organisation.
Make it easy
One of the biggest barriers facing corporate social impact programs today, is that it is just too hard. Too hard for employees to participate, and too hard to manage and measure the program.
It needs to be easy, and one of the best ways to facilitate this is through technology. Your technology should make your program
Make it meaningful
Why are employees ultimately engaging in your program? To achieve a sense of meaning and fulfilment. Without this, you may as well wind up the program. Here are a few ways to ensure you deliver on this fundamental need
Embed impact into your everyday
Ensuring your social impact program is front of mind for your employees is crucial if you want to build a sustainable culture of impact. Here are some great ways to do this
56% of Australian organisations that employ more than 200 people match employee donations through their social impact program (8). Some companies choose to match all donations, some cap their total matched donation amount, and some offer matching incentives at different times of year.
Further to this, some organisations have partnerships with external foundations, that match the contribution of the employee and the corporate, creating a 3x multiplier effect.
Donation matching is a great way to encourage employees to donate, and demonstrates your company’s commitment to social impact program, and what is meaningful for your employees. Some organisation’s go that step further and further reward the volunteering efforts of their staff by providing the recipient charity with a donation commensurate with the level of efforts their teams provide. Often referred to as “dollars for doer’s”, these types of initiates are more prevalent in the US than in Australia.
Targets, recognition & incentives
You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so setting SMART (10) (Specific, Measurable, Ambitious/Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) targets aligned with your strategy and measuring progress is key to ensure you are on track to deliver the intended outcomes of your program.
Leadership should promote the progress of your organisation’s impact efforts regularly (e.g. quarterly town halls) and recognise those teams or individuals who are going above and beyond in the pursuit of impact. By providing tangible examples of what these teams did will inspire others to do the same. These forums can also be used to rally the troops when additional support is required to meet a given objective.
Gamification (11) and leaderboards are also being employed to establish healthy competition between teams, and are proving effective especially with the younger generation.
Incentives can come in many forms, and should only be used to promote the right types of behaviour. Some organisations encourage greater organisational wide support for their programs (beyond the walls of Corporate Social Responsibility) by giving those instrumental in the program (e.g. office champions, cross functional impact committee etc) the opportunity to gain executive exposure by presenting on the program strategy and execution throughout the year.
Other organisations set KPI’s for leadership to ensure they make it a priority within their own departments.
Employee Led Causes
If one of the reasons your organisation is investing in social impact is employee engagement, it is important to understand what matters to your employee base, and allow them to support causes they’re passionate about.
Considering 81% of Australians are regular donors (6), it is likely your employees are already connected to a cause they’re passionate about. If you enable employees to donate through the workplace they can amplify their contribution via your corporate matching program (if you have one) and make their donations pre-tax.
The trick here is getting the balance right. You want to give your employees enough choice so they feel like they have a say in where their efforts are channelled, without giving them so much choice they don’t take action. More choice also adds complexity in managing your program.
We suggest that you give your audience no more than 6 options if you want a considered yet timely decision. This means you should promote your flagship cause and no more than 5 employee led causes based on what the majority of your workforce is passionate about.
To capture the hearts of those who may not be overly passionate about your shortlisted causes, provide them with meaningful information, that unlocks their hearts and minds for impact. Meaningful facts that get their attention, followed up with easy options to participate and how this will drive impact will resonate with your employees and drive participation.
Supporting employee led causes establishes more meaningful engagement and enables you to track the total value of donations of all your employees, not just the ones giving to your flagship cause.
Finally, avoid alienating the passionate minority who have a strong affiliation for a non-promoted cause or charity. Give them the flexibility to continue their support of this issue, even though your organisation doesn’t promote the cause to the masses.
Different ways to contribute
Leading programs provide corporates and their employees various ways to contribute. There are many ways to support your impact partners, including the sharing of
Additionally, your program may encourage or support your employees to be daily changemakers. By simply changing regular habits that drive impact, these small acts, when combined, lead to something greater.
ABC’s series “The War on Waste” (8) raised awareness around challenges such as disposables (e.g. coffee cups/water bottles), food waste and recycling. Many corporates have embraced such movements, and are now providing their teams with keep cups, improved means for waste disposal and supporting employees who decide not to take fossil fuelled transport to work and use it as an opportunity to exercise. All in an effort to be more environmentally friendly.
How you decide to drive impact should reflect the unique capabilities of your organisation, and the desires of your employees. Having a multifaceted program will enable employees to generate impact in ways they can.
Leadership & peer influence
Leadership leading by example
Leadership support is fundamental for successful social impact. Leaders in your organisation need to create an environment for your employees to feel empowered and proud to participate in your program. Leadership support is not just about having the right rhetoric, but leading by example to be part of the impact your organisation is generating and publicising this both internally and externally.
Allow groups to contribute together not just to promote greater participation, but to foster greater collaboration between teams and employees when they return from the office.
Office champions are crucial and should be selected carefully. Ideally they have the right passion to do a great job, but also the right level of influence within their location to get people engaged.
The foundation for a successful corporate impact program is an underlying impact strategy, which ensures organisations take a more focused and purposeful approach to their efforts. This strategy should be aligned with your organisation’s vision and values, and shaped with strong leadership and stakeholder engagement. The success of your strategy will be dependent on the long term buy in from those who will play a role in its operationalisation.
This strategy should answer questions like
(See the Purpose Led Social Impact Blueprint on page 12 of the ebook)
Corporate flagship cause
Your flagship cause is what your organisation wants to be famous for in the eyes of the consumer, to establish greater loyalty and strengthen your social license to operate. Modern impact strategies are focused on fewer, deeper partner relationships, with the flagship cause attracting most of the organisation’s focus, investment and promotion. This flagship cause should be aligned with your own organisation’s Purpose, leverage your organisation’s unique capability to drive greater impact, and ideally consider important issues that face funding and skills gaps.
According to a 2015 study by Corporate Citizenship (2), the flagship cause approach is likely to become the norm throughout corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility units. While only 12% of survey respondents claimed to have a flagship program currently, 70% of the remaining respondents said they plan to begin developing one in 2016-2017.
Deciding on a flagship cause should be the result of an organisational-wide strategic conversation that considers the perspectives of your executive team & board, your consumers, employees and shareholders. “Our work in the community needs to resonate and make sense to our stakeholders. That’s how we get them most involved in working with us to achieve outcomes” – Interviewed CEO (3)
For example, Kellogg’s flagship cause in Australia is to support the Foodbank in their fight against child hunger. One in seven Australian children arrive at school without having had breakfast, hence Kellogg’s supports this leading charity with six million serves of cereal, along with funds to mobilise this program. Kellogg’s is uniquely placed to support this initiative possessing the goods, skills and services required to really shift the needle in this area.
Flagship causes may not resonate with all employees, hence establishing a corporate giving circle in support of this specific cause can be a great motivator to get them engaged and be part of the collective.
Using our hypothetical example from eBook 1, Paper for Purpose’s flagship cause was reforestation, and was selected in line with what was important to the organisation and its consumers around leaving the planet in a better place than they found it.
Support leading charities
With over 54,000 registered charities in Australia alone (5), it is crucial you do your due diligence before simply expecting your investment will generate better impact. Whether it be for your flagship or employee driven causes, supporting leading charities with strong management and a proven track record will help ensure your investment will yield better outcomes.
Taking a partnership approach is a great way to amplify the impact of your program. Multi-year partnerships with joint KPIs and a regular governance cadence maximise the effectiveness of your program and the activities of your charity partners.
Your organisation can channel its resources to an area of strategic and social importance, and your charity partner benefits by having a confirmed commitment for the programs they are undertaking.
Long-term impact occurs over many years, and multi-year partnerships enable you to see an initiative through from its inception to sustainable outcomes. They increase employee participation because they build familiarity and trust. Employees can see how their involvement is making a difference over the long-term, encouraging them to increase their participation.
It also allows your charity partners to invest for the future, as they have an assured revenue pipeline to make foundational investments required for certain programs (e.g. staffing, capacity building etc).
Finally, multi-year partnerships reduce the administrative burden for both parties allowing for co-designed solutions to the most challenging problems.
Integrated partnerships leverage the goods and services from numerous corporates who possess a shared purpose. While they are more resource intensive to set up, leveraging the unique capabilities of multiple corporates can enable an end to end supply chain for greater results.
For example, a food rescue organisation looking to solve hunger issues in their local community could tap into one corporate for surplus food, one corporate for packing, and one corporate for logistics and delivery. This reduces the cost for the charity to deliver services and allows the corporates to leverage their unique skills and capabilities for greater outcomes, while at the same time strengthening their own customer/supplier relationships.
Successful social impact programs aren’t set and forget, they have dedicated resourcing and support from others in the organisation who are passionate about realising the program’s outcomes. Hence why it is key to engage your stakeholder base during the strategy phase.
Leading organisations have
So... Why are we doing all of this? To ultimately leave this world a better place than when we found it. Therefore it is important to understand the impact you’re generating for your supported causes, and share that message far and wide.
Social impact measurement can be complicated but is a worthy investment to demonstrate the true value of your program. The Centre for Social Impact has put together The Compass: Your Guide to Social Impact Measurement (6), which includes measurement fundamentals such as what to measure and how to measure it. We acknowledge that corporates are not resourced to conduct complete impact measurement studies, hence the importance of partnering with leading charities that already do.
In addition to this, it is recommended that organisations align their programs with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. The SDGs are gaining worldwide adoption among governments, businesses and not for profits, quickly becoming the standard measure for change. Learn how your organisation can adopt these here (7).
Remember, this whole journey started with a business case to make social impact an organisational priority, and to secure the required funding. As with any investment, it is essential to measure how your program is tracking against its business case goals and what return the program is generating.
Understanding what to measure will depend on WHY you embarked on your program. However most corporate ROI measures will centre around employee engagement, employee retention, employee attraction, consumer loyalty and shareholder value. It’s important to get a solid baseline prior to your program, then measure the benefits realised as your impact and stakeholder awareness around this grows.
Focus on the metrics that are important for your leadership, and craft a fact based, compelling message around the corporate value the program is generating to get more support. If done well, you create a perpetual business case for more and better social impact.
1. New Philanthropy Capital 2014 - 10 Innovations in global philanthropy
2. Corporate Citizen Flagship Social Investment Programmes, 2015
3. Giving Australia 2016 - Business Giving and volunteering research
4. Foodbank & Kellogg’s - Breakfast better days video
5. ACNC 2016 - Are there too many charities in Australia?
6. Centre for Social Impact 2014. The Compass: your guide to social impact measurement
7. SDG Compass: The guide for business action on the SDGs
8. Giving Australia 2016 - Individual Giving
9. ABC Documentary Series - War on Waste
10. MindTools - Definition of SMART KPI’s
11. Wikipedia - Definition of Gamification
Purposed acknowledges the work of Sarah Wilson, Katherine Jude and Tom Ferrier in the production of this publication.
Disclaimer: this publication is intended as a guide only and is designed for discretionary use. It does not replace the requirement to obtain specific operational, legal, insurance, or other advice. No person should act or rely upon the information contained in this publication without first advice from an appropriately qualified professional. Purposed disclaims all liability and responsibility (including arising from its negligence) to any other parties fro loss, damage, cost, or expense incurred or arising out of any person using or replying on the information contained herein. Purposed accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided, nor the effect of any such errors.