#MeasureWhatMatters: Knowing Your Impact Influences Your Bottom Lines

In our last blog, we discussed the importance of identifying your community in order to “do good.” This is a critical step toward defining what matters to you, your business, and your company stakeholders. Without an understanding of what matters and how you will create community change, you can’t begin to measure that impact. If you generally get the warm fuzzies from the work that you do, what difference does it make to take a tape measure to those good feelings? Measuring what matters is critical for any business, big or small, with a social impact bottom line. Why? Most importantly, measuring your impact holds you accountable to your goal to do good. But tracking, reflecting on, and sharing how you measure up to your social impact goals has benefits beyond maintaining your company’s integrity.

  1. Boost Your  Brand

If your company makes a positive impact in the world then, by all means, share that with the world! The good that you do should be the basis of your brand and influence everything from your logo to your website copy, to your interactions with clients and customers. Consumer stakeholders want to love the companies and products they patronize for more than just the services and goods they provide. They want to know that you share their values. By measuring your impact, you can effectively communicate the change you’ve created to your clients and customers. What’s more, you can make them a co-conspirator in the good that you do for the world. Is there a better way to ensure their loyalty?

       2. Earn Consumer Trust

Gaining stakeholder trust is inherently tied to your brand and messaging that shares openly about how well you are on track in pursuit of your impact goals. Through simple communication tools like blogs, an annual report, or an event such as a Town Hall style meeting (held with those most invested in seeing your company’s good to fruition), you can boost how much you are trusted while reporting the facts about your social impact. Back up data on staff volunteer hours with rich stories that share about getting out into the world to interface with your community first hand. Demonstrate your commitment to being energy efficient by showing the actual numbers of carbon off-sets you acquired to offset company travel through a visual graph or infographic. Showcase the organizations that you make charitable gifts to help broaden their reach while creating new connections among your community.

       3. Stay Relevant & Responsive

Sometimes the data we collect tells us things we don’t really want to know about but are the things we need to hear most. If a social impact goal is too lofty or off target- the proof will be in the measurements you make of your pursuits. While disappointing data can be unwelcome, we encourage you to embrace it as a chance to dive into where you’re going “wrong” and to make adjustments accordingly. Perhaps the community you set out to serve with an innovative product isn’t using it the way you had expected- don’t let dismay dissuade you from sleuthing for the reasons why. Go directly to your target and ask. If the feedback fits, make changes. Measuring what matters can provide disruptive but stimulating feedback that can set your company on a path to do what it is meant to do.

For small to mid-sized businesses layering impact measurement onto an already overwhelmed task list is daunting. Still, we challenge you to adopt one or two simple measurement practices this week to set you on the path to #measurewhatmatters. Try this:

  1. Give yourself the gift of time. As painful as it may be, carve out 2 hours this week to dedicate to impact measurement. Hold that time as sacred- only a natural disaster should pull you away.

  2. Identify 1-2 really tangible things you’re doing right now to meet your social impact goals. Ask yourself, what is an easy way to capture those efforts?

  3. Create a container, be it a spreadsheet, a blog, or a feedback bank, to capture the what, how, when, and where of your impact activities. Introduce this resource to your team and invite them to fill it up.

  4. Spend a few moments of celebration with your team, your greater community - or yourself - to reflect on the change you have created in the world.

  5. Make a commitment to repeating this process (and perhaps expanding) once per quarter. Make it an event by hunkering down over your spreadsheet with a smoothie in hand or over a plate of homemade brownies along with your team.  

With limited capacity, facing the development of a new system for measuring impact can be paralyzing. Most often measuring social responsibility is not a company’s core competency even when doing good lies at the heart of the business. Undressing your company culture can evoke a feeling of vulnerability. But revealing your learning curve in measuring impact can endear your community to you. Moreover, your customers may have great insights in how to approach this work.

Remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. Abide by our “wash, rinse, repeat” program for the next year with a goal of having a one-page annual report at the end of the year. Before you know it, your efforts to #measurewhatmatters will be integrated into your daily operations.

Do you have a tool that you love to use to #measurewhatmatters? Care to share? We’d love to hear from you!

Title photo credit: Dean Hochman