Social Value from a Corporate Social Responsibility Perspective
Karl Daly is an individual member both of Social Value Ireland and Social Value International. His company Humanli is also an organisational member of Social Value International. Here he shares his views as a relative newcomer to the field.
We began our Humanli journey in early 2020. Since then, we have learnt so much about the world of business and what it is trying to achieve with its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
The founding idea of Humanli was to connect companies and charities that have common goals and best utilise the resources being provided in order to gain the optimum result for all parties. Based on previous experience, we had preconceived ideas of where we could add value to companies struggling to put a structure around their CSR activities. But we have had to challenge these preconceptions. If I was writing this article in early 2020, it would be totally different to what I am saying now in the middle of 2022.
So here is just some of what we have learnt so far. Some companies have no process whatsoever for selecting the charities that they support. Most still want to control the process. And nearly all companies have no idea how to measure the impact of their intervention.
Companies enjoy what they do, love to be right in the middle of things, and are always happy to help. However, the initial euphoria dies down very quickly and the ultra-important impact piece is forgotten. I strongly believe that it is in the area of social impact where advisors and consultants can add the most value.
If a company writes a cheque to a charity for €50,000 and grabs a photo opportunity with the relevant parties, puts a post on LinkedIn and then ploughs on with life, then what has ultimately been achieved? Sure, the company gets a warm feeling for helping, basking in the limelight of their good deed, and the charity is smiling with the proceeds, and all seems well. But where did that money actually go? Who did it help? What actual difference to people’s lives did it make? Is it the charity’s responsibility to report back with updates? Does the company and its employees know or care about the answers? I am not for one second trying to put a shadow on the fantastic work being done every day through CSR activities. I am saying, however, that the cheque handover should only be the beginning of the relationship.
Lots to learn and certainly lots to achieve!