Measuring Corporate Giving

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By: Maria Nardell, onPhilanthropy, 11/29/06

… First of all, it is a challenge to develop a method of benchmarking second-grade reading improvements and translating that output (e.g., the number of students who pass a reading diagnostic test) into terms equivalent to the given input (e.g., volunteer time). Second, even if such a formula were devised, Thompson observed, how would one compare the impact of education programs in places as diverse as Vermont and India?

Most companies rely upon their nonprofit partners for the statistics to measure social impact. As with corporate giving programs, however, there is no single standard by which nonprofits gather, analyze or present that data, and so Thompson would question a company that states it has exact data detailing the impact of its giving. …

According to Farron, “You can look at social return in a couple of ways.” One way is non-monetary. That is, social change is measured by quantity times quality, allowing for “customizable social units of outcome,” such as the number of lives saved by a vaccine or the number of people educated through a scholarship program. The other way is to think about social return in a monetary sense. The socio-economic value of corporate giving investments can consist of the money society saves or the increased number of people contributing toward the tax base. Some companies also measure the market value of their investments, although Farron points out that most companies don’t accurately determine the percentage of goods and services actually being used. (For example, brand-new donated computers sitting in an organization’s closet don’t do anyone any good.) …

http://www.onphilanthropy.com/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6845&JServSessionIdr011=lyn38jsak1.app6b

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