Very little has been left untouched by COVID-19. But, as we touched on last week, now is the time for businesses to step up. It’s time for them to do their part and create the future they want to see for generations to come. At a time where so many inequalities and injustices have been exposed, generating social value has never been more important.
But the ways you gave back pre-pandemic – for example, by volunteering in local non-profits or donating to local businesses – may no longer be possible due to government regulations. Or they might just not be as beneficial as they were pre-pandemic.
During these uncertain and complex times, we need to find a way to achieve social value through alternative means. To pivot our efforts to keep making a difference. And where possible, to make more of a difference than ever before.
So what might generating social value post-pandemic look like to you and your business?
Monetary donations are a great way to generate social value. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s the basic level of social value that any business can and should be doing. So how do we elevate this?
Matching donations is a big one. 84% of donors are more likely to donate if donation matching is on offer. And 1 in 3 donors would consider giving a larger donation. If you offer a donation-matching initiative, just imagine how much more willing your staff would be to donate. Not only are you making a more significant contribution to your chosen organisations, but your business is showcasing an ongoing commitment to worthy causes and supporting your workforce to make even more of a difference. It’s putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak.
While donating to worthy causes hasn’t really changed pre- and post-pandemic, it’s about looking at where your donations will have the most value. Such as COVID-19 relief funds or those left most vulnerable after such a trying time. Businesses need to question what they can do differently and more valuably now.
If you were doing X, Y, and Z before, great. But now, how can you reposition X, Y, and Z to make the most valuable difference to those who need it post-crisis? For example, you might want to pivot your financial support to local areas, businesses, suppliers, and communities to help boost your local economy.
The companies who have stood out and will be remembered for their efforts during this time are the ones who went above and beyond to make a difference. Giving in a way that’s not monetary is equally, if not more, valuable. Anyone can donate money, but how can you go one step further?
Many social enterprises are using their platform and resources to give back. One example is Smug, a business that sells handmade face coverings. For every order they receive, they donate a mask to volunteers at UK food banks. This is a great example of a business using the resources at their disposal to provide social value that answers a specific post-pandemic need.
Across the news in recent months, we’ve heard of plenty of organisations who repurposed their operations to support others. For example, hotels offering free accommodation, high-street giants opening factories to make PPE, and all the local businesses who started creating hand sanitizer when supplies were rapidly diminishing.
When it comes to identifying opportunities for non-monetary support, nonprofits are close to the ground. They’re a great way to reach the root cause of issues and make the most difference possible. Partnering with them puts your organisation closer to the epicentre of an issue and maximises the impact you’re able to have.
By creating a materiality matrix, your business can find a nonprofit that matches your unique needs and priorities, representing the issues that are most relevant to your stakeholders and local community. This might also uncover ongoing, valuable partnerships that long outlive the pandemic. We spoke of the ‘renew’ stage of recovery last week – how we build a resilient society for the future that can flex and bounce back more quickly. And forging these partnerships is a wonderful example of that.
Guiding your staff
Plenty of people will want to make a difference, but be unsure of the best places to donate, help, or where to educate themselves. As a business, you have the opportunity to help educate your staff and channel their support in the most valuable directions.
For example, why not recommend resources or reading lists regarding racial injustice to help educate and inform your staff on the pressing urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement? Or put together lists of local organisations who you feel would benefit most from your staff’s monetary support or time.
If people are going to give their time or money either way, you can help channel these resources into the best possible places. For example, victims of domestic abuse, homeless charities, single parents who are balancing childcare and full-time employment, local food banks, relief funds, or any other nonprofits that align with causes close to your organisation’s heart.
Supporting your workforce
Supporting your workforce is an often overlooked aspect of social value. How can you support your staff in a socially impactful way from home? Given the increased rates of remote working, how are you maintaining your health and wellbeing commitments and educating your staff on mental health while social contact is still limited?
Perhaps you increase the number of employee assistance lines available or the time spent answering staff queries over email. It’s about opening conversations, recommending resources, creating support groups, and making time to support your staff now and into the future. The knock-on effects of the pandemic will be felt for a long time, and the support you offer needs to reflect this.
Members of your team might need financial support to navigate this difficult time. Or you might need to provide more flexibility on working hours for those of your team needing to balance childcare or familial obligations. Be more open, understanding, and prepared to give back to those who kept your business afloat.
These are all great ways you can make a long-lasting social impact post-pandemic. But with all this difference you’re having, it’s also important to look at specific outcomes. How can you trace the exact impact you’re having and document this to keep staff, customers, stakeholders, investors engaged and committed to the cause?
Collecting data to prove the social value your organisation is generating ensures that you can continue making a difference, incorporating these initiatives into your core strategies and business values.
With Impact, tracing your social value is simple. Whether you’re keeping track of monetary donations, volunteering hours, employee mental health support, or anything else, our intuitive, easy-to-use platform helps visualise your efforts and align them with tangible, real-world outcomes. To find out more, give us a call on 0161 532 4752.