19. 05. 2017 Corporate responsibility

What we learned about measuring of the impact of philanthropic activities

The measuring of the impact of philanthropic activities was the main theme of the 9th Corporate Philanthropy Forum.

On 18 May almost a hundred participants discussed how to do philanthropy effectively and with as much impact as possible.

The event was opened by Norbert Maur, Programme Manager at the Pontis Foundation. He presented the results of a large survey of investments in philanthropy. The first complex survey of philanthropic activities in Slovakia was conducted by the Pontis Foundation using the method of examining the annual reports, CSR reports, or conducting personal interviews in 47 companies in Slovakia. Its aim was to find out in which areas companies invest their philanthropic funds the most. The explanation and sociological context of the survey was provided by Martin Bútora.

New phenomenon – investing with social impact

Investing with social impact was the topic of the talk of Björn Strüwer, the founder and CEO of Roots of Impact. It is an increasingly more common trend in the world. This type of investing is motivated by the desire to contribute to solving a social issue. However, it is different from philanthropy in that it expects a return on the investment – at least the return of the capital invested. When investing with social impact, it is important to have a strict approach both to monitoring and assessing the impact and the investing itself.

For illustration he mentioned a company from Paris which organizes city tours for tourists. They are guided by homeless people who show them around lesser-known yet interesting places of the city. Also Slovakia is home to companies which do this kind of investing. An example is the company getFarmmer, the winner of Social Impact Award in 2013. It brings produce from local farmers to Slovak households.

The education of the public is key

Elena Calistru is the founder of the non-governmental organization Funky Citizens in Romania. It is an organization fighting against corruption. Their work focuses on the segment of the population who do not live in poverty but have a regular average income and who have the potential to be interested in public life. One of their aims is to educate the public. “Civic education is an excellent springboard for fight against corruption,“ says Calistru. If people understand the problem, they seek ways of solving it. The public should, for example, understand how courts or legislative procedures work.

The organization seeks to make the education entertaining, accessible to the general public. They operate a portal which allows the public to verify the statements of politicians and people active in public life. They have also issued a set of cards with the pictures of corrupted politicians because it is important for people to remember them. People collect and exchange these cards. The organization is also known for organizing city tours where people are told how much public funding which building received. According to Calistru, cooperation between companies and non-profit organizations is crucial. Together, they can perform activities with a high social impact.

Companies shared examples of best practice

The afternoon programme featured practical workshops and speakers from several companies who talked about examples of best practice and shared their experience. Olalla Linares Segade from Impact Measurement & Corporate Programmes, SEIF, talked about how impact should be measured. In a parallel lecture Pavel Hrica from the Pontis Foundation advised company representatives on how to set up the philanthropic strategy effectively in order to achieve the desired impact.

Katarína Hutyrová from Nosene talked about the philanthropic strategy of this start-up. While shopping, customers can see the exact percentage of the price of the clothes that goes to abused women. Martin Bača from Accenture had a talk about how they influenced thousands of students in Slovakia by providing computer science teachers with instruction on how to teach the subject creatively. Silvia Belovičová from Squire Patton Boggs and Martin Provazník from bnt attorneys-at-law gave a talk about how pro bono assistance can contribute to a systemic change. 

Certificates for “the magnificent seven”

The Corporate Philanthropy Forum included the award of certificates for Transparent Corporate Foundations/Funds. Thanks to the certificates, the first seven corporate foundations and funds became leaders in transparency in the third sector. The certificates were awarded by the Association of Corporate Foundations and Funds (ASFIN) in cooperation with KPMG Slovakia. More information on the awards is available at this link

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