Corporations Gained Advantage With Societal Engagement Efforts

A growing number of companies are actively changing the structure of their business to capitalize on the competitive advantage of societal engagement, an annual survey conducted by CECP and the Conference Board finds.

Based on a survey of two hundred and seventy-two multi-billion-dollar corporations, the report, Giving in Numbers, found that the companies in the survey spent some $24.5 billion on corporate societal engagement, with 56 percent of survey respondents saying they reported environmental, social, and governance information to investors as an indicator of business strength. The report also found that employee participation in company volunteer efforts rose to 33 percent, up from 28 percent in 2013. According to the survey, companies increased their full-time corporate giving headcount by 3 percent between 2013 and 2015, even as total headcount fell.

The practice of evaluating the impact of corporate giving and volunteering efforts also has become more widespread, with 87 percent of companies reporting that they measured the social outcomes and/or impact of at least one grant in 2015, up from 79 percent in 2013. The survey also found that companies that were actively engaged in impact investing supported community-focused programs with giving of $25.7 million on average, while giving for such programs by companies not actively engaged in impact investing averaged $15 million.

"CECP's data is showing that corporate societal engagement has moved from business case to business imperative, with companies and shareholders recognizing the impact community investments have on financial performance," said Carmen Perez, CECP director of evaluation and data insights. "Through our survey results, we can gauge that companies are seeing the results of their commitments resonate through all parts of the business: greater volunteer participation, increased interest from new stakeholders, and an indicator of financial performance."