Social impact teams don’t only measure; they achieve

 

If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you are not only interested in measuring the ROI of your social impact activities but think of your team’s productivity and how to help them focus on what matters.  

2020 reinforced the importance of a purpose-driven approach by highlighting how problems have become too big to tackle ourselves. 

Priorities have shifted. Social challenges have grown far worse than they were before the pandemic. Corporate leaders are redesigning their funding programs in response to these shifts.

Key takeaways from last year:

How 2021 is looking so far

Social impact leaders are investing more in tech to help them scale their efforts. The beginning of the year accelerated how technology and social impact partner up to better cater to societal needs.

Corporate funders voiced the need for a more inclusive approach to funds allocation and increased investment in the ROI of purpose. 

This article will tackle the following:

Dealing with expectations

As social impact teams look to the year ahead, they cannot avoid the top priorities from their leadership: team productivity, applicants’ experience, and business impact. 

Being purpose-driven involves a complex process. It impacts many different categories within an organization: stakeholders, employees, the causes, and communities you are trying to help. 

With 90% of S&P 500 companies creating corporate social responsibility reports, this has become a must-do communication effort to show the social impact you bring to the world. 

Beyond the pdf 

Return of investment has been the primary metric for establishing an organization’s health and readiness for more impact for some time now. This is often used in all reports that translate whether your organization is performing well or not. 

But depending on the type of organization you are in, it’s becoming clear that ROI measurement is one thing that gives the most headaches nowadays. 

This is particularly true as the role of social impact measurement has evolved so much in the past year. 

We have long believed in the power of ROI when it comes to purpose, and we see last year’s events at the tipping point that sets impact measurement on a course to overtake conventional reporting. 

Today, most of the companies we work with, have adapted their processes to be able to assess the impact they make. Without the right technology and the data focus, the pace can be very slow.

While the need for a bigger impact is rising, budgets to hire more people on the team are shrinking. Companies and organizations might be faced with no choice but to reduce their teams’ size as a result of the current economic climate. 

To make it easier for the existing team, here’s what you need to tackle:

  • Consolidate your processes under one single platform to make the team more efficient 
  • Put in place different workflows and avoid using tools that don’t communicate with each other 
  • Automate manual work as much as possible 

Having the right technology in place is an asset in tracking all your contributions and seeing the bigger picture of your impact on the stakeholders. Keeping a track record over the years means monitoring your progress in specific areas of activity to be ready to pivot if the need comes. 

It takes one mistake. It can be a typo or incorrect formula that can ruin a month’s work. Working from home made organizations realize how reporting using spreadsheets is time-consuming and continuously prone to errors.

The importance of viewing purpose as part of the business strategy is evident. However, leaders should not stop there. Measuring what’s important must be used to make better decisions and shape processes to be able to scale the social impact. 

The shift to proactive support for social impact gains momentum 

For decades, corporations and foundations had a reactive support strategy: be there to answer society’s needs while hoping that the teams behind the process can keep up. The problem with this approach? It traps team members on an endless journey of time-consuming tasks and leaves your applicants stuck waiting on hold. 

Let’s face it, being pro-active just makes sense. Today’s social impact leaders are investing in a proactive approach. When done right, being proactive means you can get ahead of knowing the needs and issues even before they are made urgent. 

Technology and the challenge of doing more with fewer resources 

Any social impact activity produces positive returns to employees, communities, and stakeholders. We have all seen success stories of how impact teams stay satisfied and committed to their company’s mission. But beyond this storytelling, there is a lot of work. 

Take the case of Veolia, which enables support for various community and environmental projects in different locations across England. Veolia has been funding over £85 million to award 2400 projects to communities across different countries to improve their buildings, parks, and other open spaces. 

They are faced with the challenge of doing more with fewer resources. In 2016, they saw an increase in the number of projects. At the same time, the team had to resize from 12 people to only 5. With over 90 applications per quarter and managing 150 live projects, this seemed like a mission impossible. So they had to look at a grantmaking tool that could help their team be more efficient. 

Quote from Veolia

 

Moving to Optimy meant automating processes that before were manual. ‘Just to give you an example, building forms with conditional questions, being able to contact a large number of applications from one click and every grant officer being independent to manage their work within the project they are responsible for. There are things we could not do before.’

Funders adopting a long-term mentality when it comes to social impact are at stake. This will be a turning point in deciding why some social impact programs succeed and others will fail. Articulating a commitment to a specific goal, establishing tangible metrics, equipping your team with the right tool, and seeking authentic buy-in by being able to show the ROI is key. 

Conclusions 

Countless articles point to the value of purpose. But without measurement, an organization will never know whether its purpose affects the world, its customers, employees, or stakeholders. 

The organizations we partner with experienced an increase in their productivity. Over time, these benefits keep growing. The platform saves costs in the long run. And numbers continue growing, especially for those that have used it for more than 3 years. 

What does ROI look like for our clients? 

  • A direct correlation between solution usage into every tasks and productivity
  • 50% time saved on manual tasks
  • No more human errors 
  • Boosting the morale of team members as they are gaining more time
  • 100% of our clients declare that Optimy streamlines their process significantly. 

 

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