The Importance of CSR reports
If done correctly, CSR reports are an effective way to showcase the social impact you create as an organisation.
In classic ‘business case’ terms, the purpose of a CSR report is to highlight the successes of the organisation to appease all stakeholders and see an improvement in:
- employee acquisition & retention
- stakeholder satisfaction,
- business differentiation, etc.
Members of the C-suite rely on these reports to identify what is working, and where there are opportunities to be had in the organisation. These reports need to be robust, up-to-date and informative – traditionally resulting in reports that are stat heavy and high-level.
However, for the average consumer, the business case isn’t important. Your audience is not interested in business motivations. They want to see authenticity and genuine motivations for doing good.
So how do you create a balanced report that is relevant for all your readers? Here are 5 ways to optimise your CSR reports to have a bigger impact.
1) Have a purpose
Always have a clear purpose. This is a universal standard.
Ask yourself: “What difference are we looking to make as an organisation?”
Your purpose should justify all your social and environmental interventions, and it is important to communicate this. Your readers are people that care about the work you do, they will want to know what the social outcomes are contributing to.
Have a clear mission. Invest wisely. Then reflect on the ways you can improve your performance against your goals.
2) Report frequently
We need to think about how often we record, analyse and report our social impact just as much as what we do to create it.
Compressing a year’s worth of activity into a single document won’t give you an accurate impression of the impact you are having.
The useful thing about Google Analytics, Xero, or SalesForce, is that they are all updated live. You can gather reports at the click of a button without the strain of compiling data from various sources.
Take the same attitude used for other business activities, and make CSR reporting a more consistent procedure. Modern software is making this not just possible, but practical, taking in feeds from CRM and intranets and calculating the social value in real time.
3) Collect valueable data
With CSR reporting it all comes down to how accurate you want your reports to be. To do this, you need to ensure that your purpose drives the decisions, not the monetary metrics.
If you focus solely on the financial metrics, there is an incentive to gravitate towards specific activities that produce a high sROI. The risk here is that you are going to be ignoring other value-rich projects that may be more beneficial in the long run.
Driving with purpose-first means that decisions reflect the preference of the end-user or community which you want to help.
4) Add narratives and examples
You need real, human-driven stories to contextualise your impact, and to make it relevant for your target audience.
Use case studies to exemplify how your efforts actually influenced change and improved the wellbeing of your audience.
There is power in qualitative data. Your end-users, employees or consumers relate to the narratives of real people. Avoid an over-reliance on numbers as they can de-humanise something that is, fundamentally, human-centric.
5) Say what you have learnt
What is next? How are you going to improve? What lessons can you take away from the data, and are there recommendations that can realistically be applied moving forward?
This is, arguably, the most important part of any CSR report. If you are going to be successful in the CSR space, you need to show that you are moving forward and maximising your impact.
Using data and insights, identify what should be worked on next, where you will be optimising CSR activity, and what behaviours are really making a difference.
- Ensure your CSR strategy as an intrinsic part of your organisation, and embed it within all business behaviours and decisions.
- Be transparent. It is easy to pay lip-service, and not be truly committed, but eventually, your stakeholders will see through this. The real, and rewarding challenge comes when you’ve got to take control of the agenda, using robust figures to support your decisions.
- Share your experience and knowledge with others, and ask for help if you need it. Here at Impact Reporting, it is our mission to make sure organisations are making a difference. Join our community, and subscribe to our newsletter(bottom of our homepage) to discover more ways to report on your social impact!