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Research Reveals Community Investment Risks



The growth of Corporate Community Investment (CCI) over the past few years is significant, but a research report reveals that not all is as it seems. Corporate Citizenship’s report published today highlights a surprisingly large gap between commercial ambitions and reality in terms of CCI.

CCI has grown rapidly in recent years as more companies give philanthropic donations and run employee volunteering schemes. Many Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports talk about “impact” in the community, such as “transforming communities” and “improving lives”. But the reality is that most companies are confused about key terms, fail to accurately measure them and don’t live up to the hype.

Based on the insights from more than 130 sustainability and corporate responsibility practitioners around the world, the study reveals that three quarters of companies aspire to achieve long-term impact with their corporate community investment, but less than one quarter currently feel that their organisation is delivering on the promise. This is because less than one in four are measuring their long-term impacts on the community and benefits to the business.

The report describes the ‘impact-aspiration’ gap between what business seeks on the one hand and is able to deliver on the other. The study suggests that the gap is caused by confusion over how and what to measure. A lack of clarity over what to measure, a lack of a clear approach to measurement, and a perceived lack of resources are creating barriers to effective impact measurement.

Jon Lloyd, Associate Director at Corporate Citizenship and the report’s author, said: “Companies need to invest their resources where they can genuinely make a difference in the community. But impact cannot just be a buzzword. It requires measurement of long-term change. For many companies, that means doing things differently.

“It requires asking some searching questions about how best to approach community investment and what can realistically be achieved. In a world where more and more businesses are making such assertions, having tangible and concrete data on impact has never been more important. This focus on achieving hard outcomes, not hollow promises, is all part of an exciting new area in responsible business that we call impact for change.”

Corporate Citizenship’s new report entitled Hard Outcomes or Hollow Promises: Realising the True Impact of Corporate Community Investment helps companies to close the impact-aspiration gap by overcoming challenges and barriers to measurement. The report guides practitioners through the process to effectively measure community investment impacts – creating benefits for both business and society. It can be downloaded here.


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