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Towards standardised measurement for greater Social Impact

 ­Social Investment Benchmarking industry insights from Nation Builder businesses

 The majority of Nation Builder businesses who invest in CSI do so because it is the conviction of the CEO to contribute to the socio-economic development of South Africa.

 Where the company has a CSI Head, he or she is often part of the senior management team.

These are some of the industry insights drawn from the Nation Builder Benchmarking and Health Check assessments, which are free online tools available for all business who want to see how well they are doing in their social investment efforts. More than 150 businesses have completed the Nation Builder assessments intermittently since 2015.

The small businesses (less than R50-million annual turnover) who do not have regular Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) processes in place, state financial constraints and a lack of clear guidance or standards as reasons. The bigger businesses (more than R50-million annual turnover) also state that a lack of clear standards, combined with inadequate skills in the team, inhibits regular M&E processes. What is interesting, though, is that people base their original decision to partner with a specific NPO based on the NPO’s past performance and impact or mission and objectives. That should mean, then, that monitoring and evaluation, as well as reporting against clear objectives should play a critically important part in a social investment strategy. Yet many still struggle with M&E.

The majority of businesses who have completed the Nation Builder assessment tools have indicated that forums for shared learning would enhance their social investment effectiveness – and they now participate in such forums, as part of the Nation Builder Collabs.

The Collabs that took place in 2018 identified the need for developing a flexible form of standardised reporting to meet the needs of both donors and NPO partners, for greater social impact. The first steering committee kicked off the research process in January 2019.

“We want to enhance cross-sector partnerships, particularly when it comes to funding and reporting. We were delighted at the enthusiasm of the Nation Builder community, who put their hands up to be on the steering committee. We have input from Growthpoint, Pioneer Foods, Tsogo Sun, Kamva Lethu Trust, MES, and Mosaic SA at the first steering committee meeting,” said Keri-Leigh Paschal, Executive Director of Nation Builder. “There are many different metrics in the marketplace, and impact reporting has become an industry on its own, but if the Nation Builder community of over 100 corporates and businesses could align with one another on which metrics to use, we could start a push towards standardising nationally. This would drastically reduce the amount of paperwork and reporting that an NPO is required to do while making benchmarking, impact reporting and big-picture impact much easier to quantify in the social impact sector,” she added.

The findings of this collaborative research will also be a topic of discussion at the annual Nation Builder In Good Company Conference on 15 August 2019.

The Benchmarking Tool is available online:

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