4 Steps to Start Measuring CSR Impact

Feb 1, 2023

Measuring CSR impact is an important part of growing your company’s programs and ensuring that your efforts directly align with the needs of the communities you serve along with achieving business goals. Evaluation doesn’t have to be scary. Think of it as a significant way to prove the return on company investments and find out whether your collaborations are moving the needle and creating impact.

You’ll want to measure both the social impact and the business impact of your CSR strategy – and keep in mind that one is somewhat easier than the other. Nowadays, you may also need to consider tracking progress against ESG factors and aligning with frameworks like the Global Reporting Index Standards to attract impact investors. Don’t forget to share your results internally and externally, with your company’s board and with the public as well as employees and other stakeholders.

Here are four steps you can take when measuring CSR impact:

Understand What You’re Looking For

CSR leaders must understand the difference between inputs, outputs and outcomes. Points of Light partner True Impact has put together a primer to help.

Start With Satisfaction Measures and Inputs

Basic satisfaction measures ensure your projects and partnerships are meeting expectations on both sides. The next step is to gather and report on inputs. A few examples of input data are to have employees track their volunteer hours or to understand how much of your grant dollars went to project planning and supplies. Having these numbers handy will help you make more strategic decisions in the future, based on the success of each investment.

Focus on Outputs

Next, move on to evaluating your outputs. Note the number of projects completed and the number of partners or beneficiaries served. This is also where you can report on those satisfaction measures to your stakeholders, which can help drive engagement. You could also partner with your HR department to survey employee volunteers around any change in perceptions after participation, like increased pride in the company or the development of new skills. Depending on the strategy behind the project, you might also note whether it leads to increased sales, new sales relationships or boosted reputation/PR value.

Consider Outcomes

Finally — and here is where it can get more challenging — think about outcomes. Examples might include the impact your project had on a partner (its reach, effectiveness, or efficiency), on its beneficiaries or on the social issue itself. An easy way to measure the value of hours volunteered, if you’re in the U.S., is to multiply by the Independent Sector’s annual value of a volunteer hour. Use $195/hour if the volunteer work is skills-based. But remember that this number alone doesn’t quite tell the full story of your impact. You can check out True Impact’s resources on detailed social impact measurement, like their recent webinar.

If you evaluate your company’s CSR efforts and find that you need support in boosting impact by rethinking your program’s structure or strategy, reach out to the Corporate Services Solutions team at Points of Light.

Katy Elder
Vice President of Corporate Insights, Points of Light

Spending 20 years in the corporate social responsibility sector, Katy mixes creativity and strategy with expertise in employee engagement and corporate citizenship to develop resources and learning opportunities that advance corporate social impact.