4 Benefits of Measuring CSR Business Efforts in a Sustainability Report for NonprofitsCSR, CSR Business, CSR Canada, News, Non-profit fundraising, Philanthropy | Desi Cabrera | June 26, 2012 at 12:01 am
Recently I had the opportunity to participate in the development and writing of Miratel’s first Sustainability Report. Although at first it was a bit overwhelming, we were helped through the process with the excellent guidance from WWF Living Planet @ Work and the University of Waterloo’s Environment and Business program team (special shout out to Danielle). Although sustainability reporting is becoming a more common practice, it still seems to be mainly conducted by medium-to-large, for-profit businesses. Reporting on CSR business efforts is rarely done by small businesses and nonprofits and the contributing factors can range from sheer intimidation – not knowing where to start – to assuming it requires more human and financial resources than can be afforded to a “what’s the point” feeling due your efforts not being able to compete with those performed by larger companies. We had all those feelings too but persevered with the guidance we received and we’re glad we did.
We know our report and its results don’t compete with the “big boys” on any level but that doesn’t take away from the value it has to us and our operations. It’s had enormous impact on our planning and strategies going forward and we look forward to our next report. Throughout the data collection and writing process the importance of measuring and tracking our efforts became more clear and the benefits we discovered are also applicable to nonprofits:
- The Complete Picture. One of the biggest benefits of implementing a sustainability report is that it provides the organization a complete picture of the total sum of their efforts and the true impact on operations. Prior to the writing of our report, I was aware our organization had green initiatives, but I didn’t really understand the impact and the benefits that these initiatives produced. It was only through the data collection and compilation of the report that it all came together and made real sense and we realized where we could do better which is at the heart of it all. Nonprofits could benefit from demonstrating they take a consummate approach to business ethics.
- Build Confidence. Implementing a sustainability report in a nonprofit’s organization can help build confidence on so many levels. From donors, board members, corporate donors, employees and volunteers, a sustainability report is a great way to demonstrate heightened accountability and transparency and builds on trust and loyalty. It also lends to the pride employees and volunteers feel in being associated with the organization they work for and support and adds to the probability of positive word of mouth which is still an effective outreach strategy. The health of the planet and its inhabitants should be a concern of all people and businesses and nonprofits are not exempt. The three pillars of success apply to all equally – people, planet, profit.
- More Donors. As concern over the social and environmental condition of the world continues to grow, it’s important that nonprofits stay current with these issues. Environmental responsibility is being taught at the elementary school level and nonprofits who document their CSR efforts in a sustainability report will be appealing to (potential) donors who share these values. Donors who are environmentally conscious will be more apt to support organizations that operate sustainably and a report can effectively demonstrate a nonprofits current commitment along with future plans and goals. Also, businesses with environmental policies will often include responsible procurement mandates that give preference to business partners who are socio-eco minded. That may also extend to the causes they support as well.
- Save Money. Ultimately, sustainability reporting helps organizations better understand their current position and assess the opportunities for improvement in terms of reducing natural and, in turn, financial resources. Basically, identifying ways of reducing the consumption of energy and water and other resources will help save the planet as well as money.
Nonprofits already operate with heightened business ethics and integrity and a sustainability report shows that commitment extends beyond their own cause and includes issues that concern everyone. Although the creation of a sustainability report can be a daunting task, once created and data collection methods established, future editions of the report will be considerably easier to complete. Use resources at your disposal like WWF Living Planet @ Work or contact local colleges and universities as most have sustainability degree or certification programs and may offer student time for free as part of the curriculum.
Does your organization have a sustainability report? You can read the Miratel Sustainability Report through this link.
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Miratel Solutions is a Toronto call centre, eBusiness, and letter shop mail house specializing in professional fundraising services including telephone fundraising, online fundraising, lottery services, donation caging, donation processing and other donor management services. We are committed to our CSR business values in all contact centre services and mail house operations and advancing the missions of the nonprofits we proudly serve.