Social Impact Storytelling: By the Numbers
Need a social impact storytelling strategy that lasts all year? Use last year’s impact report and pull the latest updates ASAP.
There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to social impact storytelling. The organizations who do it well, like Patagonia and Airbnb, include as many metrics as possible so that they can tell the world in exact terms where they’ve come from, where they are now, and where they are going with their social impact.
For far too many organizations, however, the burden of tracking, accessing, and incorporating social impact indicators is already a challenge. Therefore, incorporating it all into an effective social impact storytelling strategy that doesn’t just last one quarter but guides a full year seems beyond reach.
In this installment of our “Social Impact Storytelling” series, I want to dig into the importance of incorporating your social impact insights into a cohesive, compelling, overarching narrative that every team within your organization can apply to their work. The goal here is to help all organizations trying to engage employees around giving and volunteering to share that story in as powerful and rewarding a way as possible.
Incorporating last year’s impact into a broader story
Remember, every employee donor and volunteer wants to feel that their individual actions make a difference. It’s up to social impact leaders to show how one good deed snowballs into another, then another, until, with time and effort, purpose becomes the center of work life.
To tell a compelling, overarching story of your organization’s social impact, one that resonates with everyone across the organization, from the warehouse to the C-suite, you’ll need to identify the metrics that matter and repeat them over and over. Do not give anyone the opportunity to miss hearing about your corporate and employee giving, volunteering, and skill-sharing.
Where do resourceful social impact leads turn first?
Whether it was produced in-house or with a team of social impact consultants, your organization has likely put out an annual impact report recently. An impact report is a great opportunity to show all your stakeholders—employees, partners, investors, and the general public—exactly how your organization is making good on its commitments to better society and protect the environment.
A winning social impact report tends to include four core components: brand cohesion & consistency; investor information; multimedia assets; and data, data, & more data. When thinking through the coming year’s social impact storytelling strategy, your first step must be to review your most recent impact report with care.
To guide your review of your last impact report and help identify gaps in the numbers, here is a must-have list of key indicators for social impact storytelling.
Key indicators for people-focused social impact storytelling
Do you find it helpful to think about your organization’s impact through the lens of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG)?
Opinions differ on this. Critics say that ESG, a label with roots in the financial sector, lumps together too many different efforts under a single heading that does not accurately represent the work being done. According to Fast Company:
Jargon exists in just about all workplaces. While each has its own industry-specific terms and acronyms, jargon is often a verbal shorthand for communicating within a small professional circle. Some industries have so many terms that we consider them a new “language” (see: legalese or academese). In that way, jargon is meant to be exclusionary: It’s a signal that you are part of a shared culture that is confusing to outsiders.
Our social impact storytelling should always be inclusive. Still, without any strong replacement for ESG, most people working in social and environmental impact have accepted the term for the time being. Other terms include social impact (our favorite), corporate social responsibility (CSR), and purpose-driven work. Whether or not you explicitly use the ESG heading in your social impact storytelling, the topics that fall under it are well worth keeping in mind as you look for representative impact data.
In all areas of ESG, we recommend taking a people-focused approach to social impact storytelling. Here are some inicators that would be useful to that end.
- How did your organization contribute to environmental disaster relief?
- What year does your organization expect to reach net-zero carbon emissions?
- How many employees donated to environmental causes?
- What is your employees’ top cause, based on donation dollars and volunteer hours?
- How many local nonprofits have your employees supported?
- How many employee resource groups (ERGs) do you have, and what are they?
- What percentage of the team and board are women, people of color, LGBTQIA+, and identify with physical and/or intellectual disabilities?
- How many cybersecurity, privacy, and trust & compliance policies did your organization create, test, and/or revise?
- During economic insecurity, how many jobs did your organization protect?
- How many or what percentage of employees participated in giving and volunteering?
- How many employees used your social impact tech platform this year?
- How much did our donation matching program boost giving?
How employee engagement metrics are revolutionizing social impact storytelling
The real people who are doing good deeds at your organization and the real communities those volunteer hours and donation dollars are the lens through which all your ESG efforts make sense. Your employees are likely asking themselves:
- How did that day I spent taking volunteer time off (VTO) to mentor students help them navigate their school and work lives?
- In what way is my $25 recurring donation actually helping combat climate change?
- How can I use what I’ve learned about myself, my community, and the world in my everyday work?
If your social impact storytelling efforts anticipate these questions, you will find employees more likely to engage in your efforts, and ultimately your organization will do more good.
Where, when, and how to find social impact insights
Ever worry that some social impact stories may be slipping through the cracks, never making their way to the stakeholder who really needs to hear it? Ever spend a whole day pulling and organizing spreadsheets, just trying to make sense of them?
With Deed, your organization’s social impact storytelling will always be driven by the numbers that matter. Our platform offers:
Our import-export loop is humming along behind the scenes of every action your employees take on Deed, updating your employee engagement, donation, and volunteering metrics in real time. That means when you look at your Deed dashboards—both the ones that came out-of-the-box and the ones we made just for you—you’re getting a true 360˚ view of every angle of your impact.
An integration-forward approach
Your historical impact is our starting point. Want real-time employee status updates? We’ll integrate with your HRIS. Migrating from another impact platform? We’ll make sure every metric makes it onto Deed. Our dual focus on both yesterday and today’s impact means when you look at our dashboards or pull our reports, you’re getting industry-leading access to the information your impact strategy needs most.
Tailored to your needs
Our dedicated data team is on standby to customize any and all dashboards and reports you need right now—and to think creatively on what you’ll need down the line.
The bottom line
Social impact metrics can be difficult capture, understand, and incorporate into your social impact storytelling. But by shining a light on the ESG and employee engagement indicators that speak to how real people get involved in social impact, all your stakeholders—from employees to investors and the general public—will see what good you are doing.
“Social Impact Storytelling” is a series from Deed, exploring best practices for enhancing your brand by expanding the market’s perception of your mission. As Deed’s head of marketing, it’s my hope that this series will provide social impact marketers and organization leaders with interesting ideas, actionable advice, and an opportunity to discuss them together.
One more thing: My advice on how to put people first in your social impact storytelling
People-focused social impact storytelling is crucial for any organization that prioritizes employee engagement in ESG, and Deed is the workplace giving and volunteering platform that puts people first, because user experience shouldn’t stand between you and doing good.
We help social impact teams foster genuine human connection by empowering employees to support causes they care about together in-person and online, with the data and insights they need to drive engagement. Backed by PayPal and a solid infrastructure of trusted payment processors, our Fortune 500 partners support +2 million nonprofits with ease. And together, our community is doing more good deeds everyday at work, at home, in our neighborhoods, and all over the world.
Ready to back up your social impact storytelling with the most representative and compelling numbers?