Most companies know how to measure their meeting’s ROI with certain metrics such as delivering proper content, creating attendee interaction and stimulating provoking feedback. The return on investment formula provides a company with a justification for meeting expenses. Many companies include community service activities within the meeting agenda because giving back is part of their corporate culture. However, the important question is, “How can your organization yield the greatest ROI with this activity?” What is the true measure of success with corporate social responsibility (CSR)?
Establishing a connection with the community and making a difference with a meaningful donation are key goals for any CSR project. However, I believe that the metric needed to measure ROI with CSR is ROE.
ROE stands for return on emotion. It is an acronym that measures the heartfelt emotions created when participating in a corporate social responsibility activity. ROI aims to provide the true measure of return on investment.
What is the recipe for a successful CSR activity?
1. Support your company’s existing cause when implementing your event’s CSR activity. If your company supports education, hunger, the environment, youth issues or another movement, use your CSR activity to further the cause. By doing so, you are building on your company’s drive to support a cause that is already part of your organization’s framework. This activity’s donation will add to the company’s annual contribution goal. If your organization does not have a common cause, source a cause within the community that might best appeal to the demographics of your attendees. For example, if your financial institution is managing a conference for the sales team, supporting a school in a nearby under-served community and donating a financial literacy learning curriculum will certainly appeal to your audience. Providing a local cooperative with needed tools to support its small businesses will also appeal to your financial sales team.
2. Include your core meeting objectives within the CSR activity. You may want to include the three major pillars of team-building results—communication, trust and time management skills—in your activity to reach your meeting’s ROI goal. Although this has little to do with the beneficiary, a vibrant activity will stir up the energy and emotion among your attendees. Working together on a fun and competitive team-building activity certainly provides synergy among employees and a better sense of community involvement with your CSR project.
3. Your donation must be meaningful. Don’t just assume it’s good to have attendees assemble or build bikes for distribution to students. Source the ideal beneficiary and discuss what is most needed that will truly make a difference for it. The value of the donation isn’t always as important to the beneficiary as making people aware of their organization and having an opportunity to pay it forward when your attendees travel back to their home cities. Acknowledging children in hospitals with bedside activity items and get well cards is not expensive, but to the sick child, these small gestures are priceless. Giving a bicycle to a child who already has one or who can easily ask their parents for anything is certainly not going to be particularly meaningful to him or her.
4. Connect with the community. Always invite a representative from the beneficiary to attend, and address your group. This spokesperson will best explain the importance of the donation and how their organization supports the community and makes a positive difference to those most in need. Invite someone within the community who can stir up some emotion or reinforce the need for this donation. If appropriate, a soldier returning from a tour of duty can explain to the audience the importance of his or her family. The story will connect the audience with the cause and provide an extraordinary feeling that is priceless. Create a dossier of the recipients, with the goal of creating a human connection and highlighting the importance of this donation.
5. Follow up. After the event, forward a thank-you letter and photos to your audience. The goal is to reinforce the importance of the donation and your company’s commitment as a good corporate citizen. The follow-up will certainly bring back fond memories and heartfelt emotion.
What are your metrics for return on emotion?
Create a measurement of the emotion and build each year’s activity to exceed the audience’s level of expectation. Be sure to have Kleenex in the room when the emotion level is reached! Your event will be a win, win, win experience. Suggested metrics include:
- Pulling on the heartstrings of your audience
- Reinforcing the importance of the donation
- Human connection with the community
- Post-event survey that determines attendee feedback regarding the importance of a CSR event. Do they feel good about their company? Do they see the value it adds to the meeting? Do they feel they can pay it forward within their own community?
Alan Ranzer, managing partner and co-founder of Impact 4 Good is a leading voice in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement. Under his leadership, the company has created and implemented hundreds of team-building activities for major corporations that have contributed immeasurably to local charities in the United States and abroad.
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