How do you ensure that your doing good is strategic, sustainable, and impactful?
Many companies in Singapore are eager to do more for society: in the Corporate Giving Survey (CGS) conducted in 2017, more than 50% of companies here are giving back in one way or another, and another 31% are keen to start.
It would come as no surprise then if your company falls into either of these two groups. However, perhaps your company is new to corporate giving, or your giving programmes have not evolved beyond ad-hoc staff volunteering events and you want the company to go further. How do you ensure that your doing good can be truly sustainable and strategic for the causes you support?
An easy guide to follow when planning your CSR or ESG efforts is to think of 4’I’s – Investment, Integration, Institutionalisation, and Impact. With this simple framework, you will be able to deliver better social outcomes through your giving.
The first step in any endeavour is often the most important: how invested are you in its success? Any corporate giving effort will require a commitment of resources, time, manpower, and of course – money.
When investing to do good: the effort you put in should be matched by the outcomes generated both for the company and the community. There are many ways to invest in doing good: through funding, resources, manpower, skills, and even your business model itself. Here is a company that has invested in CSR effectively:
- Strategic partnership with TOUCH Community Services since opening office in Singapore.
- Invested in reducing emissions, improving safety, and promoting greater inclusion and equity amongst staff.
When considering integration, we think about merging corporate giving with the company’s very own identity. To accomplish that, it is critical that you integrate your impact objectives into the business DNA: this includes business functions, strategies, supply chains, products & services, and client engagements.
Integrating corporate-giving will shape how the wider market perceives your company. With more companies identifying themselves as givers, customers are also increasingly brand-conscious and seek to avoid non-givers. When done right, your clients and partners will be able to easily associate your brand with your impact, like the company here:
Marina Bay Sands
- Supports institutions such as APSN, Metta School and ITE through work attachment stints and internships.
- Developed industry-standard hospitality training rooms at Metta School and APSN to provide special needs students with vocational training.
Institutionalised CSR involves structural changes that creates sustained impact – in other words, it ensures the giving behaviour survives leadership rotations, economic fluctuations, shifts in culture etc. Such changes will affect hiring practices, employee engagement and culture, and the incentives for all staff members to give consistently.
Unlike “Integration”, “Institutionalisation” is an inward transformation of your company’s people and systems. Staff training and buy-in is paramount to your success in this area, which this company has clearly done well in:
- DBS Foundation set up to support social enterprises across Asia.
- Actively procures goods and services from SEs such as Adrenalin Group, which hires marginalised individuals in society.
- Created the Social Enterprise Package to ease the financial load on SEs, offering them free transaction banking services.
To evaluate the effectiveness of an investment, we measure its returns to the stakeholders. Similarly, one should evaluate the impact created from the company’s giving efforts. Corporates often term this as “sustainability reporting”.
Measuring impact is very challenging as the benefits are often long-term, intangible, and difficult to quantify. However, if you work with long-term non-profit partners and track the same group of beneficiaries over a prolonged period, you will be able to capture both shorter and longer-term impacts of your intervention. At the same time, you can measure the impact CSR has on your company’s financial performance too. Here is an example of how that works:
- Set up CSR arm The Food Bank in 2012 to tackle food waste.
- Worked with NEA to measure the extent of food waste issue.
- Impact: collected and redistributed 385 tonnes of food in 2018.
If you would like to learn more about the 4’I’s, visit the links below!
Investment: Spotlight on Planning and Strategising
Integration: Spotlight on Integrated Giving
Institutionalisation: Spotlight on Institutionalised Giving
Impact: Spotlight on Impactful Giving