IMPORTANCE OF AUDITING COMMUNITY INVESTMENT
A recent blog post on Corporate Citizenship, Benchmarking Blunders, is a great reminder on the importance and benefits of using audited data when comparing community investment, employee giving and employee volunteering programs. Auditing is a fundamental part of the LBG Canada process. At SiMPACT, we believe the annual audit underpins the entire benchmarking process because:
- The term ‘community investment’ is used frequently, but is defined in various ways. The audit facilitates internal conversations to help reach a common understanding of the term community investment within an organization.
- The audit sets community investment teams up for success. Program success hinges on management infrastructure. Auditing helps companies in our community investment network see how well they are set up for success by looking at the management approach taken to support community investment, employee volunteering and employee giving strategies.
- Auditing produces better benchmarks. Auditing ensures benchmarking comparable data, allowing for truer comparison of groups and trends, and facilitates learning from others.
- Transparency and accountability. For those who choose to report, auditing helps ensure transparency and accountability which is critical in reporting. Your stakeholders expect this.
As we enter the 2015 benchmarking season, LBG Canada will continue to support community investment professionals in identifying what is and is not community investment. Applying LBG Canada valuation principles in a line by line audit of community investment expenditure enables LBG Canada companies to distinguish between community investment, sponsorship and marketing activities, which are often intertwined.
Benchmarking audited data ensures a more accurate or apples-to-apples comparison. There is little benefit in a benchmark that shows your company to be a leader in community investment, if that comparison includes investments (such as marketing and sponsorship) that do not benefit community. Additionally, isolating community investment from other business activities helps to more clearly illustrate the unique value of community investment for both business and community.
In 2015, we may see a growing desire from companies to benchmark against leaders in community investment, employee giving and volunteering, rather than sector peers or competitors only. Benchmarking against high-leverage LBG Canada companies can help a community investment team set future targets and goals.
Confidence in and relevance of benchmarks is a primary focus of LBG Canada. Audited data will not only help distinguish community investment expenditure from sponsorship and marketing, but will ensure true comparability (apples-to-apples). Benchmarks must also challenge the status quo and help companies set future targets in community investment, employee giving and volunteering, which is all possible through the LBG Canada line-by-line audit.