A Summary from the GivingForum

Engagement, Measurement and Impact

3pm, Thursday 10th March, 2016

RBS, 250 Bishopsgate

To view the presentation slides, please click here.

We were really pleased with the response to our first GivingForum when CSR professionals from 20 different organisations came along to our discussion at RBS. Our discussion was broken down into three topics: Engagement, Measurement and Impact. We allowed the room to debate over the topics whilst providing a structure of questions.

First, to get ourselves in the right frame of mind, we heard from our guest speakers: Michael, Alison and Ejaz.

Michael Duncan, RBS Sustainability

  • Michael is a senior member of the RBS sustainability team, and is responsible for delivery of several of the RBS employee engagement programmes
  • He talked about RBS’s programmes, with notable partnerships including a renewed partnership with the Prince’s Trust and the Entrepreneurial Spark programme
  • The media has been cynical about RBS’s attempt at helping the local communities but they have proved impact

Alison Braybrooks, ReachOut

  • Alison joined mentoring charity ReachOut as Director of Fundraising and Impact after mentoring the fundraising team during her time at UBS. She has had a career spanning fundraising at Macmillan and Shelter, corporate responsibility at EDF and UBS and consultancy as Director of the London Benchmarking Group and Head of Community Consulting at Corporate Citizenship.
  • She has a unique insight from both a corporate and charity perspective
  • After going over these insights she related to some measurements which organisations represented in the room had published or were measuring against
    • For example: In London, almost 40% of children are at risk of food hunger. Morgan Stanley, Healthy London
  • She proposed questions which charities can be asked, for example: what is the problem they are trying to solve?
    • Charities often have a ‘problem statement’ outlining the problem they are tackling / want to tackle.  But is this robust and has it been thought through?
    • Every charity should be able to explain what problem they are trying to solve – A problem statement and target makes it easier to achieve.
  • If there is a match between what problem the company is trying to solve, and their expectations, this can lead to collaboration and positive impact
  • SROI is a relevant topic for many in the room and a way of quantifying impact for some

Ejaz Rashid, GivingForce

  • Ejaz is the founder and CEO of GivingForce
  • GivingForce is a corporate employee engagement portal, used by corporates such as our hosts RBS
  • Ejaz drew on his experience working in the field for over 10 years to talk about how he has encountered our topics of engagement, measurement and impact
  • We’re looking at how we can gather data from the GivingForce portal in a way which is useful for measuring wider impact of the corporates we work with – possibly by overlaying data in the future
  • Looking into the future technology such as blockchain could be utilised to assess the impact of corporate/charity partnerships down the value chain in a transparent way

The Discussions

Before the tables began the main discussion we had a couple of icebreaker challenges. We heard the ‘penny for thought’ challenge revealed a few interesting stories! We tried to gather what the room wanted to gain from the afternoon… (though next time we’ll ask everyone, including Richard, to come a little better prepared for this question!).

We had 10 mins on each topic with 5 mins for alternate tables to feed back to the rest of the room. Below we have summarised some of the notes and themes we picked up on (these are not attributed to any individuals or their organisations).


The questions discussed for engagement were:

Which community activities and causes have proven most popular for your organisation?

Which campaigns have got the highest level of internal engagement, and how are you monitoring that engagement?

  • Popular activities included: the elderly, mental health, children, entrepreneurship
  • Higher engagement is noticed around certain times of the year – e.g. Christmas
  • Programs aligned with company strategy or industry are most popular
  • Using themes but allowing employees more freedom to choose a charity/ cause increased engagement 
    • Supporting employees on whatever they want to do, rather than just limiting to particular causes or charities – but at the same time linking it back to the company
  • Many corporations found that it was always the same people/ employees in their organisations who took part in schemes
    • although this was a reliable audience that you didn’t have to make as much effort to engage with versus others, those schemes which don’t get high enough engagement end up being scrapped
  • Getting employees to have their say on decision making seemed to increase buy-in, whether that be in the formation of a programme or the branding of activities. Companies had used a range of methods for doing this:
    • Surveys to see which kind of charities the employees wanted to support
    • Voting for Charity of the year got huge buy in: lots of related fundraising activities happened as a result
    • Having a council made up of employees – who get an insight on the direction of CR strategy. This particularly worked well to target a younger audience- and the company also gets fresh insights
    • Flagship program branding competitions
      • Also noted that branding is important to help communicate to an employee what they’re getting involved with – for example branding volunteering as ‘learning and development’ can be more appealing to some employees
  • Employees seemed to be attracted by the activity over the charity/ cause
    • This could be an upcoming trend, because people are happy to be ‘something good’ and who they are helping is more secondary
    • For example a company wide event which brings everyone together got very high engagement, especially if this is after a period of company change
  • We saw some difference in opinion over national charity partnerships versus local charity partnerships
    • Although at the beginning national partnerships worked, after 3-5 years the campaigns begin to drop off and engagement falls- everyone would raise money for the first year but then weren’t prepared for the long haul with a relatively unpopular cause
    • Some had decided to go for local charities as not every employee connected with/ understood the national one
    • Having a range of charities seems to be more popular – linking to more employee focus on their favourites – rather than 1 or 2 charities

How should you quantify the value of your programmes?

Which metrics have been most useful to report against?

How have you collected data and conducted follow-up studies?

  • First ask yourself what are you trying to measure: outcomes, output, impact? Should it be a combination? Does this link with your goals?
  • Sending out surveys to employees and to partners was used by all to gather data
    • Ask employees what they have got out of volunteering experiences, and compare with pre-and post volunteering surveys
    • Ask charities what they have spent donations on and what have they achieved
    • Ask the beneficiaries to evaluate (e.g. the individual who received mentoring)
    • Need to get the granular level of data required for auditing
    • How to get feedback from staff through a survey when they are so busy?
      • Some companies give an extra donation to charity when the survey is completed
      • Some make it mandatory and send an automated questionnaire
  • Knowing and demonstrating the changes that can be expected as a result of community activities has been useful for promoting activities to employees (linking back to engagement)
    • Employees also want to see the targets, measurements and progress!
    • Would be useful if you could report volunteering data immediately
  • When pitching measurements internally, you need to adjust the data depending on the individual or their department, e.g HR is interested in figures related to HR – what happened to the employee’s overall performance as a result of the volunteering, are they happier at work etc..
  • There is interest in SROI and possibly overlaying data in the future

How best to provide evidence for the support your programmes need?

How to align programmes with company focus and brand? How to create internal visibility around your activities?

How to create a resilient programme which withstands company change?

  • Impact needs consistency – which is about having longer term strategies with the same message over time
  • Have a programme in line with business as usual – linking again to your core offering as a company and focus on impacting the same industry you’re in
  • There is a struggle with internal visibility
    • to get internal visibility have to go in and speak to people face to face – but this measn micromanaging 
    • linking to internal networks like Yammer has helped some gain internal visibility
  • Spreading the benefits and understanding across the business
    • Some questions about volunteering cross reference with other development data Eg with the HR department and performance at work –  some have found employees may be more likely to be promoted after they have volunteered
  • Multiple buy-ins from stakeholders increases the resilience of programmes
    • Talk to stakeholders of different functions and in different geographies
    • However try not to have an individual champion like a CEO, otherwise when they leave support for strategy may be lost
  • But getting internal engagement and consistency can be hard when CSR moves around departments
  • There is a struggle to re-brand old CR strategy in an innovative and enticing way
    • A suggestion is reviewing strategies should be evolutionary rather than a change
  • Trying to integrate with company foundations can be a way to sustain in the longer term
  • Everyone says they’re interested in impact but the number of volunteers and engaging employees is what is noticed internally

In conclusion

Overall we saw some linkages between the overarching three topics

  • ‘Giving employees more of a say’ – even when forming or branding CR programmes, employees can get engaged early on in decision making. Giving employees more freedom to choose the charities and causes they want to support also links to the move towards local…
  • ‘Move towards the local’ – the long term national charity partnerships seem to be hard to maintain momentum for – maybe because employees favour the activities over the actual charity – so the move towards more local partnerships should increase engagement
  • ‘Linking to the core’ – programmes which link in to company industry and core strategy are set for higher engagement and aligned for buy-in and impact over the long term

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our discussion including representatives from the following organisations:

  • RBS
  • Barclays
  • British Gas
  • ReachOut
  • British Airways
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Morgan Stanley
  • EY
  • PwC
  • Three
  • CSR 21 Ltd
  • Zurich Community Trust
  • Dentsu Aegis
  • Burberry
  • Provident Financial
  • Lloyds Banking Group