Living and Giving

The Extra Tangible Benefits of Trying to Measure CSR — Or Love

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I\’ve recently been involved in a wonderful discussion on Social Edge about the danger of becoming too wrapped up in metrics as we measure our success in social entrepreneurship.  The discussion was started by Charles Cameron, with his blog post \”The Fetishization of Metrics.\”  I commented about the importance of balancing the head and the heart.  In response to a follow-up question about how we can maintain that balance, I shared these thoughts:

Dear Charles,

This is such an important statement:

\”I guess my concern is that we don\’t lose that balance because of an emphasis on quantitative measures, just because they\’re so \”convenient\” for others, in terms of making comparisons and allocating resources.\”

It\’s interesting that we see these quantitative measures as convenient and tangible. And yet, they truly do not capture the entire value. They just don\’t.

I am going to step out on a limb here and bring up something \”touchy-feely\” that may not resonate with some of you. Please keep in mind UniversalGiving generates revenue; that we want companies\’ bottom lines affected by their CSR, philanthropy and volunteerism programs. We want to be able to track business effectiveness across global brand; employee retention; product adoption, etc. So here then comes my comment:

How do you measure Love? Or better put, loving relationships in your life?

I was thinking about this walking on my way home from work the other day. There are just so many intangible, immeasurable benefits to companies giving and volunteering. How do you measure, truly, employee satisfaction and where it comes from? How can you track that x% comes from their benefits; y% comes from a positive relationship with their manager; z% comes from colleagues; a% comes from the volunteering benefits; b% comes from the childcare facilities; c% comes from feeling good that the company foundation gives grants;… the list goes on and on… How do you measure all of it and tie it back specifically?

The surveys, yes, can get more specific as noted above. And some of them are. However, some of the quantitative is still subjective. On one day I might be feeling really good about the childcare program, perhaps especially grateful, because that day I had a tremendous report due and needed that childcare support. If I were surveyed that day, my percentage loyalty to the company might jump by 12%. Or by 32%. Or would it be 6%? Then go down all the other variables noted above (and more) and apply the same thinking…

So let\’s then get back to this concept of Love. How do you measure it? Is it by how many meals your partner makes for you? The kind note? Consistent kindness? The warm feeling and respect you get when you see how they treat others? Loyalty?

How… do you measure love?

How… do you measure giving?

Again, we can get certain metrics. Number of donation; average donation; number of donors; NGOs affected and with what outputs and outcomes. And we should measure this.

However, there is an extremely important, extra-tangible benefit (benefits) that simply cannot ever be measured fully. And they should not be taken for granted. They supercede, in some ways, the quantitative. They build upon, enhance, enlargen the quantitative.

I think in answer to your question, Charles… when we look at what we value most — love, relationships, purpose… we would feel a bit shallow if we took it only to metrics. It just loses the import of what it really means to us. How would we feel if our spouse or partner were measuring us on # of meals we provided each week to them? My guess is a pretty low feeling. …Feeling as if we were constraining what love means to us, unblossoming its full potential.

So that is how I try to stay connected with head and heart. Measure results. Report the results. Then add on the heart and let a larger, beautiful, fuller meaning expand the concept of giving we are striving to achieve…

Charles, I am looking forward to hearing your insights, and always appreciate your thoughtfulness!