Capturing and Analyzing CSR Data Hones TWC Efforts
Capturing and Analyzing CSR Data Hones TWC Efforts
CAMPAIGN: Connect A Million Minds
By Pam Pantua, Community Investment Manager
What do marketing campaigns, business operations, social media analytics and website traffic have in common? They all measure their success using metrics to drive improvements and focus on what’s important. By measuring metrics, numerous data can uncover issues that might otherwise remain hidden, pinpoint areas where change is needed, guide resource allocation and evaluate program effectiveness.
As companies invest in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, tools to collect data are important to understand the value and business impact of such accomplishments. Metrics are traditionally used to evaluate and make decisions that are strategic and justifiable. These metrics are essential to any organization not only to be successful, but can also establish goals to monitor performance.
For several years, Time Warner Cable (TWC) has utilized GIFTS Online, a MicroEdge product, to maintain and keep track of the company’s charitable contributions. Not only does this tool provide grants management, it also produces meaningful results once processes were established. Although the software is powerful, internal process and procedures needed to be streamlined.
The first process TWC implemented was converting 100% of nonprofit partners to the online process. All requests for support, whether cash or in-kind, were directed to the Connect a Million Minds request support website. This practice was executed across the enterprise which then eliminated the acceptance of traditional paper applications and improved efficiency in the data collected.
Another process that needed improvement was the revision of TWC’s online application to ask specific questions. The original application was generic, contained open-ended questions and did not ask for metric-specific information. The Community Investment (CI) representatives found that they were spending much time going back and forth with nonprofits to acquire additional information. With the assistance of E-Philanthropy Solutions, custom fields were created in the database for qualitative and quantitative data requested in the new application. By asking precise questions on the new application, it reduced the time spent on lengthy tasks and the CI representatives were able to focus on their philanthropic duties in the community. The new and improved application defined anticipated results which allowed the nonprofit to evaluate their program to meet TWC’s goals and needs.
Establishing relationships with various business units was imperative to have a comprehensive report of the company’s overall philanthropic donations. The final process was incorporating giving data from other business units. Departments across the country made contributions to different nonprofits and we worked hard on capturing those hidden gems. We worked closely with each business unit to obtain their giving history and imported their data into GIFTS Online. This was especially vital when prompted to provide annual information on how much TWC has given to specific diverse populations.
One of the biggest challenges is working with a database filled with invalid or incomplete data. No matter how sophisticated the software being used to collect and analyze data, garbage information is not useful for anyone. After years of having several TWC CI employees manually entering their contributions, the data was not uniform across the enterprise until recently. One ought to limit the number of individuals utilizing the database to avoid this issue. Or create a quality assurance process in place to ensure the database is as clean and accurate as possible. Collecting data in a cohesive manner will ensure that the measurements are clear and match the goals set in place.
Once the results have been collected and analyzed, it’s time to share the story. Using a dashboard or infographic can showcase the representation of facts, events and numbers in a visually appealing manner. The GIFTS Online database easily provides metrics to highlight partnerships TWC has done in local communities across the country. It can drive action plans to improve external results and outcomes and continually increase performance and results.
As TWC has accomplished, it’s easy to implement metrics by defining and setting qualitative and quantitative goals. Best practice is to use the SMART goal tactic by creating S=Specific, M = Measurable, A=Attainable, Realistic and T=Timely goals. Once these goals are set in place, significant trends may be tracked and metrics can be updated if and when they stop driving change. Observe and monitor the trends and see what can be adjusted in the approach and strategy to improve.
Being the administrator of TWC’s database allowed me to continually revamp processes and leverage the GIFTS Online software. Properly applied metrics help propel any organization from simply collecting data. Having suitable tools to measure impact can really affect the rationale for engaging in CSR activities. Strengthen your company’s brand by creating those goals and tracking them. Upon providing the summary statistics of those CSR metrics, the stories shared will have more impact. Data can build a culture of inquiry and continuous improvement. As goals are assessed, metrics allow for projects and programs to be prioritized.