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Corporate social investment (CSI) is an important process for businesses to give back and create positive social change. Positive change, however, requires research-backed understanding of foreseeable and eventual impacts. Here are five reasons why measuring impact and forming sound strategy are vital to the success of corporate social investment initiatives:

1. Research establishes links between investment and long-term outcomes

Long-term outcomes in social investment are hard to link to financial value, since desirable outcomes such as ‘better quality of life’ don’t have clear monetary values. Research makes links between these slightly abstract goals and necessary financial outlays clearer. Establishing clear links begins with knowing what to measure and why it will yield useful data.

2. Impact Assessment makes funders more effective 

Measuring goals in corporate funding and monitoring outcomes gives corporates a clearer indication of the efficacy of social investment initiatives. This gives a clear idea of whether interventions are worth pursuing.

3. Ongoing impact assessment and research provide feedback for stakeholders 

Stakeholders who are investing financially in social projects expect to see results demonstrating whether projects are successful or doomed to fail. Through thorough research and impact assessments, stakeholders can stay in the know about the ways in which a programme benefits the public. 

4. Impact assessments help ensure sustainability and prolonged benefits 

A full impact assessment takes into account issues such as sustainability – both environmental sustainability and the sustainability of a project itself (once initial funding provision falls away). Understanding the degree of sustainability of a project clearly helps funders and stakeholders to determine whether or not a project is worth the investment. This ensures responsible social investment.

5. Thorough reports allow greater understanding of mutual business and community benefits 

A research-based approach to corporate social investment means that it is possible to gain a deeper understanding of how a given initiative benefits both local populations and business interests. A model that includes assessment of the environmental, social and economic impact of a project as well as short, medium and long-term results can give a comprehensive overview of the merits of a project.

Thorough, detailed assessment is vital in all areas of business. Whether you are deciding where to invest charitable contributions or how to improve customer experience, a good research plan will provide actionable data that helps you foresee the likely impact of your decisions.

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