Presenting the latest highlights and trends in corporate community investment across Australia and New Zealand.
Brooke Pettit - Community & Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Foxtel
Since Foxtel joined LBG two years ago, our membership has proved to be invaluable. When we came on board the LBG team provided expertise and guidance to help us embed measurement systems and better manage and evaluate our community programs and strategic partnerships.
The reporting process has enabled us to clearly align what we support, with our core business objectives, help us understand where our positive impacts are and really tell the story of our community investment. Having the support of the LBG team through this process has really helped Foxtel redefine ambitious goals for our community investment and community service announcement airtime.
In addition to the day-to-day insights from the LBG team I get a lot out of the opportunities to learn and share within the network. LBG is more than a membership; it’s a practitioner forum of like-minds.
A considerable proportion of respondents – 39% - said that their budgets would increase in the coming year, with a further 59% saying their budgets would remain the same. There was a notable difference in results here for LBG and non-LBG respondents: half of LBG respondents indicated budget increases, compared to one third of non-LBG respondents; and half of LBG respondents indicated budgets would remain the same, compared to 63% of non-LBG members.
Just over one-fifth of respondents plan to increase the number of flagship partners they work with, while 15% plan to reduce numbers. Those who indicated plans for a decrease cite drivers of better alignment with strategy, and to enable fewer, “deeper” relationships with partners. Partners received between $10,000 to over $1 million, with most receiving between $100k-$250k.
Over 40% of companies are aspiring to invest in contributions that achieve value by 1) focusing on achieving greater alignment with business strategy and delivering shared value projects; and 2) improving measurement of outcomes. Both LBG and non-LBG respondents noted the challenge of finding partners who were strategically aligned and who could deliver on outcome/impact expectations.
Jo Booth of The Smith Family, and LBG for Community participant says “It is heartening to read that there will be a greater emphasis on strong alignment and reporting. We all know these are key ingredients for a successful and sustainable NFP/business relationship. More than ever, a clear and logical alignment is paramount if both parties are to gain public trust and increased buy in from employees.
“The LBG for Community program supports this, providing a real 'road map' for the partnership between an NFP and a corporate partner. It helps both parties, at the outset, hone in on what can be delivered, measured and reported on. Being able to have these conversations with confidence is a great way to start AND grow a partnership.
“The sustainability of the sector will very much be bolstered by better reporting and evaluation. I don’t just mean the ‘numbers’ but am talking about the impact, covering both the rational and the emotional and lives changed or lessons learnt. I’m looking forward to the exciting times ahead and the changes we can make to communities across Australia.”
Read more about flagship programs in Corporate Citizenship’s insights.
Read more about our program to upskill community partners, LBG for Community.
The importance of impact measurement continues to be recognised, with 91% of respondents seeing this as being important, very important or essential – up from 80% in 2016. The use of measurement in enabling reporting back to Board and other stakeholders was well recognised, with many noting the increasing internal pressure to justify spend and demonstrate value, both in terms of social impact and commercial return. Respondents also noted the importance of measurement in enabling performance improvement of programs over time.
63% of respondents noted they had measured impacts for at least one of their community programs (73% for LBG respondents and 56% for non-LBG).
The greatest barrier to measuring impacts was identified to be a lack of understanding around what and how to measure (45% of respondents), closely followed by other resourcing constraints (42%). Other barriers included cost and lack of consideration in partnership development, with 16% of respondents each.
Resources to support measurement can be found as part of Corporate Citizenship’s Impact for Change program, aimed at helping companies measure, improve and communicate impact. A recent Insight webinar A recent Insight webinar also looks at how to move from having community activities in place to measuring them.
40% of respondents publicly disclose CCI targets, either as a percentage of pre-tax profit, dollar value or output/impact related data (including people involved, volunteer hours or beneficiary outcomes). An additional 8% intend to disclose targets in future. This suggests increased disclosure compared to 2016, when only a quarter of respondents indicated they published targets.
It is almost two years since the launch of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Responses to the State of CCI survey suggest some businesses are starting to seek out associated business opportunities, with just over half of respondents indicating alignment of community investments with the SDGs. Furthermore, 55% of respondents see alignment with the SDGs as being a primary focus for CCI over the next 10 years.
While these numbers represent a slight majority, they somewhat lag behind Corporate Citizenship’s research that revealed 81% of millennials surveyed believed that the private sector has a very important role to play in achieving the Global Goals.
The four goals most referenced by respondents were:
“It is positive to see growing engagement from businesses in the SDGs through this research – a strong trend we are also seeing through the UN Global Compact. The majority of CEOs we have surveyed see the SDGs as a great framework through which to rethink approaches to sustainability, as well as identify core business opportunities to contribute to the agenda. Leading businesses in Australia and around the world are embedding the SDGs in their sustainability and broader business strategies, although to take this to scale, we need to drive new collaborations, innovation and the translation of the Global Goals into local action,” says Alice Cope, Executive Director, Global Compact Network Australia
Corporate Citizenship takes a look at how businesses have responded to the Global Goals, and what initial implications and opportunities the Goals have presented.
Workplace giving continues to be a key part of a company’s CCI activities. Two thirds of respondents have a program in place that they either aim to maintain or increase participation in. A further 14% plan to start a workplace giving program.
Noted challenges include: being able to articulate the value derived from workplace giving; achieving buy-in from the payroll area of the business; and balancing the “competition” for donations between workplace giving and the corporate program. Several noted the need to find the right program to both support the community investment strategy and to engage staff.
Lisa Grinham, CEO of Good2Give says “It’s terrific to see companies embracing workplace giving as an easy and effective way to engage employees in giving. This is consistent with broader sector data from the Giving Australia 2016 research, which indicates growth in corporate giving in contrast to the stagnation of individual giving in Australia.
“Good2Give’s Workplace Givers Revealed research shows that, of more than 1000 employees, 80% feel having a workplace giving program demonstrates a genuine commitment to the community and makes their company a better place to work. By providing an open choice workplace giving program, companies are demonstrating how much they value the diversity and generosity of their people. It also respects that people are time poor and seeking trusted, non-intrusive channels through which to give and offers businesses a futureproof giving solution that is online and suits a digital native workforce.
“Workplace giving provides quantifiable proof of a company’s commitment to communities for shareholders and customers who want to invest in brands that make a positive difference in the world.
“We recognise the challenges facing Australian companies, including the digital transformation of workplaces. Giving is also part of this digital revolution which should be embraced. Driving workplace giving through technology provides CSR, payroll and HR teams with a solution that simplifies and centralises this important component of employee engagement, making it easier for people to participate and easier for businesses to manage. It also delivers efficient, trusted, ethical funding to charities – and that’s a win for the not-for-profit sector.”
Organisations appear to acknowledge the value of a corporate volunteering program, with 83% of respondents indicating they have a program in place, and an additional 10% planning to start one. Furthermore, over half of respondents indicate they aim to either increase participation or increase focus on skilled volunteering. Similarly to workplace giving, in addition to resourcing requirements and employee engagement, one of the common challenges stated was the alignment of the volunteering program with the community investment and business strategy. Achievement of this continues to present a significant opportunity for companies to grow their positive impact on society whilst accruing meaningful business benefits. Connecting volunteering to employee development remains an underutilised opportunity. Other stated challenges included resourcing requirements for the volunteer program and employee engagement.
A research study, commissioned by City of London and undertaken by Corporate Citizenship, analysed the business case for volunteering, seeking to assign a financial value to the skills gained by employees. ‘Volunteering: The Business Case’ presents the findings of the study and includes an evaluation tool designed to enable companies to gather hard data on competency development.
“The expectation of business to contribute to community purposefully and tangibly has never been greater.” Says Mandy Burns, Director - Stakeholder Development at Be Collective. “As a society, we understand the vital role of business to help look after our planet, to contribute to our global Sustainable Development Goals and to show care for their people. Volunteering, sharing resources and donating is expected. Measurement, verified reporting and benchmarking are key to ensure the impact is real. The Be Collective team has used the experience of running The Body Shop in Australia to develop a global tool to mobilise our collective goodwill and make engaging employees, verifying, managing and measuring social impact of corporate volunteering, donating goods and community investment simple. www.becollective.com revolutionises the way we connect and contribute to community.”
One quarter of respondents indicated their Board or a Board level committee had direct responsibility for their community investments, while 46% said an Executive sponsor or Executive level committee hold responsibility. Sustainability and corporate social responsibility functions took the lead in 20% of cases, with Foundations accounting for an additional 4%.
Mike Tuffrey, co-founder of Corporate Citizenship, notes “These findings are very encouraging and show that the majority of companies understand the role that community investment can play in achieving corporate objectives. Looking back over the last decade or two, we've seen a big increase in activity overall, but some firms still see the function only in operational terms - making small donations or organising employee volunteering, for example - rather than recognising its contribution also to the company mission and business priorities. Accountability straight to the top, whether to board or ExCo, is the key for both strategy and execution.”
Participants were asked to identify where they believed CCI to be going over the next ten years. The greatest trend identified was towards “social innovation” such as shared value and social procurement programs, with 74% of respondents highlighting this. This was followed by strategic community investment (62%), alignment with the SDGs (55%) and commercial initiatives such as cause related marketing (47%). These results demonstrate continued drive towards investment opportunities that align with business strategy. This is further reinforced by the fact that only 7% of respondents felt that more traditional charitable giving, such as ad-hoc and one-off donations, would play a key role in the future.
LBG has developed an approach to social innovation programs. A foundation of this approach, LBG and Corporate Citizenship’s ‘Investing for Shared Value’ paper, proposes a framework for measuring shared value and presents a companion assessment tool for organisations.
Jeff Oatham, Director of LBG, states “The world faces some big challenges that can’t be solved through charitable budgets alone. Community investment remains important, but we must harness the scale and power of business solutions to achieve the change needed. LBG’s upcoming guidance on social innovation will help business understand this exciting and impactful new area.”
Respondents were asked to share what they saw as their key challenges for CCI. Measuring impacts and being able to effectively tell the story of achievements were highlighted as key areas where people needed the most help, with almost 80% wanting help with measurement and 51% wanting help with storytelling. Aligned with this, a quarter of respondents felt that upskilling community partners and building their capacity would help them achieve their goals. Several noted tensions between aligning to corporate strategy and “doing social good”.
Some of the key themes to emerge from respondents were:
Access a range of insight reports and webinars aimed at addressing key challenges here.
LBG is a global network of companies who apply an international standard to enable them to measure, report and then improve upon contribution to the community.
Contribution as a % of
Contribution as a % of
*Please note totals may not equal 100% due to rounding.
^yearly average conversion rates have been used to convert dollar figures to AUD