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Social Impact Solutions and the Community at Large (CCIs)

Beyond the improvements to your employees’ engagement and the broad approval among potential customers that social impact initiatives can give your brand, social impact initiatives have many useful and essential applications in business. In fact, one of the ways many multinational organizations first succeeded at scaling and globalizing was through “Corporate Community Involvement” (CCI) that created hospitable environments for their expansions.

CCI can be defined as the way in which a company shares its resources with the community that it impacts. CCI strategies range from charitable donations without an expectation of a profit return to business and community partnerships that are integrated into a business strategy. In short, a CCI is a social impact initiative that directly targets the community a business is serving. In the digital age of crowd funding and social media, these actions can reach billions of people.

Classic successful examples of CCI are those of AT&T and McDonald’s. In the 1992 Watts Riots, when tremendous damage was caused to retail shops in South Central Los Angeles, all 60 McDonald’s franchises in the area were spared harm in large part due to company’s efforts in developing community relations through its Ronald McDonald houses. AT&T enjoyed success in expanding into Latin America after using its communications technology to assist in linking rural hospitals to national medical centers.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.18.57 PMOn a smaller scale example, Pizza Ranch, a fast-casual pizza chain based out of Orange City, Iowa, has a weekly “community impact night” at a time of the week when business is often slow. At these impact nights, members of the local community bus tables to support a local cause, such as raising money for a class trip. Pizza Ranch donates the night’s tips in addition to 5 to 20 percent of the profits to local causes.

The strategy of using positive community involvement to boost sales is backed by research. In fact, according to a study by the Journal of Business Ethics, the more money that companies donated to a relief effort, the higher their 5-day sales were following the announcement of the donation. Similarly, a Boston College study of businesses that launched CCI initiatives found that the businesses subsequently experienced increases in sales, brand awareness, customer retention, performance on competitive bids and development of new markets.

While CCI is not a new concept, many businesses that undertake CCI initiatives still do not have a means to properly measure the community impact, assurance of the quality of their findings, or even the benefits of the initiatives to business. In previous blogs, we’ve outlined how to measure Social ROI, but here are additional tools that companies can use to measure the success of their CCIs specifically: (1) the Dow Jones Sustainability Index; (2) the Global Reporting Initiative; (3) London Benchmarking Group; (4) AccountAbility: AA1000Assurance Standard; (5) Business in the Community; and (6) World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College tracks the success of CCI through metrics measuring six areas: the corporate license or freedom to operate, customer relations and attraction/marketing, human resources, innovation in market and product development, reputational capital, financial performance and social investment.

Social impact strategies such as CCI can make a difference both for organizations and the communities they serve. Continue to follow Digital Union’s Power and Purpose Blog to learn more ways business and the global community can benefit from social impact.

Maggie & Hector

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