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New research reveals ‘impact-aspiration’ gap

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New research by Corporate Citizenship reveals a sizeable gap between corporate aspirations and reality when it comes to corporate community investment (CCI).

Corporate Citizenship’s report Hard Outcomes or Hollow Promises: Realising the True Impact of Corporate Community Investment aims to help companies to close the impact-aspiration gap by overcoming challenges and barriers to measurement.

“CCI has grown rapidly in recent years as more companies give philanthropic donations and run employee volunteering schemes,” said the report.

“Many CSR reports talk about “impact” in the community, such as “transforming communities” and “improving lives”, but the reality is that most companies are confused about key terms, fail to accurately measure them and don’t live up to the hype.”

Based on the insights from more than 130 sustainability and corporate responsibility practitioners around the world, the study revealed that:

  • Three quarters of companies aspire to achieve long-term impact with their corporate community investment
  • Less than one quarter currently feel that their organisation is delivering on the promise
  • Less than one in four are measuring their long-term impacts on the community and benefits to the business.

The report describes the ‘impact-aspiration’ gap between what business seeks on the one hand and is able to deliver on the other. The study suggests that the gap is caused by confusion over how and what to measure.

Jon Lloyd Associate Director at Corporate Citizenship and the report’s author said, “Companies need to invest their resources where they can genuinely make a difference in the community. But impact cannot just be a buzzword. It requires measurement of long-term change. For many companies, that means doing things differently.

“It requires asking some searching questions about how best to approach community investment and what can realistically be achieved. In a world where more and more businesses are making such assertions, having tangible and concrete data on impact has never been more important.

“This focus on achieving hard outcomes, not hollow promises, is all part of an exciting new area in responsible business that we call impact for change.”

 

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