Organizations engaged in Corporate Social Responsibility need to have robust methodologies and systems in place to objectively assess the performance of their CSR project in accordance with standard and globally agreed upon metrics.
Evaluating CSR in a systematic and scientific manner can equip organizations with informed decisions as to whether to continue a CSR intervention or to eschew it. CSR performances evaluated employing objective and impartial methodologies and techniques by a neutral third party will bring a measure of credibility among the internal and external stakeholders and help in setting up benchmarks for future developmental programs of the organization.
Organizations are increasingly seen undertaking CSR Impact assessment these days, not only as a matter of legal compliance but also to understand whether the intended objectives of a project are achieved or not and if achieved to what extent it has created changes in the lives of the direct beneficiaries, stakeholders and the larger community. One can see a trend of organizations engaging professionals having strong academic qualifications in social sciences from reputed Institutions, having requisite professional skills and competencies to spearhead CSR operations. CSR Teams with rich understanding of social research and its nuances are particular in engaging dedicated research consultancies who are adept in carrying out evaluation of their CSR projects.
Undertaking Community Needs Assessments
Every organization should assess the real and felt needs of the community deploying participatory Techniques like undertaking Transect walk with community members, engaging community in activities like Social Mapping, Resource Mapping, Seasonal calendar, Focus Group Discussions etc., for building a repository of community needs. These systematically investigated needs of the community should form the basis as well as rationale for launching any Social Welfare Project for the Community.
Setting up KPIs and Milestone Indicators:
Every CSR Intervention should develop Key Performance Indicators and milestone indicators which will help in evaluating whether a project is progressing in the right direction or not as envisaged. These Key Performance indicators set by Organisations involved in CSR projects will help to carry out midline and endline assessments by Internal and External evaluators with precision.
Defining the Scope of Assessment.
After the completion of the CSR project, assessing CSR performance by neutral third party evaluators is a must to have objective data regarding whether the intended objectives are met or not. The first step for effective evaluation of CSR performance is setting the scope of assessment in clear terms. One needs to understand what is essential to measure and what is not. This stage involves setting up objectives of the assessment and criteria for measuring performance. Performance criteria in alignment with Global Reporting Initiatives and UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals can add more credibility to the assessment outcomes.
Determining pertinent Research Framework
Based on the secondary research and conversations with the NGO partners, a framework for research is determined, which should aid in successful investigation of the fundamental research questions which formed the basis for undertaking the evaluation. Methodologies like Mixed approaches, or exclusively Quantitative or Qualitative methodologies are determined based on the scope and nature of the CSR project. Research Designs and Sampling designs need to be in accordance with the nature of the project and the sampling size should be chosen to be not only representative of the universe but also account for appropriate confidence intervals based on the size of the universe of the study.
Reporting and Transparency
Transparent reporting of CSR initiatives is essential to enhancing performance and impact. Companies should communicate their CSR activities and results to the requisite internal and external stakeholders through comprehensive and accessible reports. They should include information on replicability, scalability and sustainability of the initiative. Transparent reporting builds trust and accountability. It allows stakeholders to assess the company's commitment to CSR and hold it accountable for its actions.
CSR performance evaluation is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement. Companies should regularly review and refine their CSR strategies based on evaluation results. By identifying areas where performance falls short, companies can implement corrective measures and enhance the impact of their initiatives. Continuous improvement ensures that CSR efforts remain relevant, effective, and responsive to changing stakeholder expectations and societal needs.
SoulAce’s CSR Impact Assessment Approach is broadly based on the OECD framework and our 10+ years of expertise. Once we are onboarded for impact assessment, we review project documentation and get in touch with relevant NGOs. Once we have a detailed discussion with the NGOs, we design our customized assessment approach involving beneficiary interviews, focus group discussions, stakeholder interviews, and more, as required. The data collected through various methods and techniques are collated, validated and analyzed to assess the impact created by a CSR project. All this with the help of Technology for Good.