As the facilitator of LBG Canada, SiMPACT is aware of the many challenges community investment professionals often face day-to-day. Whether it is lack of staff support or handling a large number of requests for funding, a common stressor we also hear from professionals is how to respond when their CEO asks: What is the ROI of our community contributions?
Although this question seems straightforward, where the frustrations lie is in trying to find a value that represents a diverse portfolio with numerous investments - and communicating that value in terms understood by senior management.
Although community investment professionals often understand the added business benefits to investing in the community, i.e. building rapport, engaging new employees, etc.- executives, on the other hand, want more tangible results, in a language they can understand, such as return on investment (ROI).
To help clarify what is intended by the ROI Question, we encourage community investment professionals to first determine clear objectives and agree with management on what the company is trying to achieve overall.
When a company approaches us to join LBG Canada, we often start our conversation with them by asking the following three questions:
- As a contributor to society, does your company want to be known as a responder, i.e. someone who is there to provide help immediately, or do you want to be known for making long-term societal change? Can your portfolio sustain both?
- Based on the above, how can you focus your investments so they are making the greatest impact in the business and the community? How many focus areas should you have, and how will they be prioritized?
- Who can you involve to help reach your objectives? Can you leverage any external resources through suppliers, clients, and employees etc. to have the greatest impact?
By determining the objectives that direct company contributions, the community investment team can then begin to put metrics in place to measure a return on investment. Although it can be difficult to measure something as subjective as social change, many LBG Canada companies find the results from their annual benchmarking gives professionals the language and evidence needed to make a strong business case for investing in the community.