A growing importance has been placed on organizations, by the public, to report above and beyond the financial status of the organization. Stakeholders expect enhanced reporting practices as they want to be actively communicated with, regarding the community investment activities.
Increasingly, organizations are releasing annual community investment or corporate social responsibility reports to highlight these efforts. In doing so, these organizations promote accountability by speaking to the triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial). Additionally, it demonstrates the organization’s contributions to the communities in which it operates, which is now expected by stakeholders.
The level of communication and engagement needed by an organizations stakeholders is supported by the dissemination of these reports. Increased communication between both internal and external stakeholders occurs and allows for conversations to occur that otherwise may not happen. Stakeholders at all levels become more engaged in the organizations activities, and the organization benefits by being able to show the breadth of its activities impact in society. Not only can enhanced reporting support and maintain shareholders by increasing positive public perception, but it also can inspire employees, citizens, and other organizations to become a part of the community investment discussion.
Enhanced reporting may also play an important role in the acquisition and retention of an organization’s employees. Community investment activities, such as employee giving and volunteering, have been directly linked to employee’s engagement at work. Highlighting these opportunities in a report speaks to the unique corporate culture of an organization and provides employees (both current and potential) with personal advancement.
Beyond engaging stakeholders, enhanced reporting allows an organization to set goals, commitments, and targets. This can be accomplished by year-on-year reporting of community investment data in order to illustrate the impact an organizations community investment activities are having in the community. It is important for organizations to report data regardless if that data shows a decline during a certain time period as this promotes the transparency of an organization. By physically stating commitments and goals, organizations have set a public expectation for which it can actively strive to meet.
Cenovus Energy is an industry leader in community investment reporting and provides year-on-year data of its community investment expenditures (Figure 1). By illustrating the monetary value of community investment expenditures along with a visually engaging, and branded chart, stakeholders are better able to see the types of investments and the impact Cenvous is having in communities.
This method of year-on-year reporting can also be carried over to reporting on employee volunteering and employee giving. Reporting on these figures is key to highlighting the work that employees and can increase internal engagement.
Green Mountain Coffee Growers provides an excellent example of employee volunteering reporting (Figure 2). They provide year-on-year data, the average hours volunteered per full-time employee, and total dollars allocated to workplace volunteerism programs. This reporting could be improved by having an engaging graphic and identifying hours for during working hours (DwH) and non-working hours (NwH) volunteering.
In 2011, TD Canada Trust reported year-on-year information on corporate, employee, and customer giving in a global context (including Canada, the U.S., and the U.K.). Breaking down community investment, employee volunteering, and employee giving based on location is considered an LBG Canada emerging best practice for international companies. This allows for each individual area of the company to better speak to the impact they are having in communities.
Community investment reporting also provides an organization to provide tangibility of the activities it is doing in communities. Beyond donating funds to support programs or other organizations, it provides the organization an opportunity to tell a story. Many of the effects of community investment activities cannot be easily quantified or can be underestimated or overlooked. Enhanced reporting can highlight stories from employees about their experiences participating in community investment activities. This not only illustrates employee’s impact in the community, but creates a narrative surrounding the organization’s impact in the community, which can be built upon year after year.