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How To Audit Your Company’s Charitable Work: The 9 Key Steps To Understanding the Difference You Make

Now that consumers and employees are the kings and queens of transparency, we have to know our numbers – intimately. The devil is in the details, and if you are claiming to be charitable and do all this good cool stuff, but don’t have the data to back it up, you will be raked through the coals, and it’s even more damaging than doing nothing at all.

So, how do we track and know, REALLY know the impact of our company’s charitable work? There are 9 key steps to take that will expose the full picture to you.

The benefits are abundant, but I love these numbers because they give you an honest picture of your business making a difference and your corporate charitable work, they are useful for cause marketing, they can help you apply for various corporate social responsibility awards, and they can be advertised internally to employees and potential hires.


Here are the 9 key steps to understanding the difference you make:


1.     Consider all the categories for your giving

There are many ways to “give” – I use the old (seriously old, like Biblical old) adage, “time, talent, treasure” to guide the process.

Knowing all the ways that you’ve given back is crucial when it comes to calculating the value of that financially AND the value of your impact.


The things to account for:

a.     Volunteer hours (paid and unpaid time)

b.     Pro bono work

c.     Financial contributions

d.     Product donations

e.     Collection (food or clothing, etc.) drives

Which of these have you done? And what did you do? With whom did you do it?

All three of those questions are important, and we will dig into those more as you read on.


2.     Which organizations did you work with?

Gather this info alongside the info on “who” from your team was giving back and “how” they were doing it. Knowing which organizations you helped, and how is crucial. We want to know how much of a difference that made to them, in other words: what units of impact did you create?

If you don’t have the info, your charitable partner should. Most charitable orgs will have what you’ve done for them on file, or recorded in a receipt that should have been sent to you.


3.     Which causes did you support?

“Causes” and “organizations” are different. A “cause” is a category of charitable work, for example: breast cancer research, animal rescue, and environmental conservation.

An “organization” is the entity that does cause work, for example: Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The Humane Society, The Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

A healthy corporate social responsibility program will be dedicated to few causes, and many organizations for optimal impact on their goals for making an impact. You can’t make a dent if you don’t make a dedication. 

You can’t make a dent, if you don’t make a dedication.

4.     Know what your employees time and services are worth – at all levels

This is where things can get tedious. If you’re a restaurant you have bussers, servers, management, owners, etc. TAKE THE TIME to do this though – you should know what each charitable event is costing you, so you have full awareness and appreciation for the work, and so that you can calculate some “dollar to impact” numbers.

Consider all of the following:

a.     Hourly

b.     Entry level

c.     Management

d.     Executive

Some other tips: there is a website that shows you the value of a volunteer hour state by state: https://www.independentsector.org/resource/the-value-of-volunteer-time/

Or if you have management level employees and above that are donating pro-bono time, or hours use their billable rate.


5.     How many employees do you have, and how many have participated in your charitable work?

Knowing this figure helps us to understand what percentage of your work force is volunteering. We like to use this to measure year over year how the work you do also impacts employee happiness.


6.     What percentage of your net revenue have you donated?

This is the accumulation of all giving based on a financial figure that is the total of: pro-bono services, volunteer hours, and dollars given.  How does it compare with what your earnings are after taxes and expenses? This is another percentage we like to see.

From here we can determine if you are within the industry standard (somewhere around 1% - 2% these days for most businesses), and what it will take financially to hit your giving goals. This figure is one of my favorites because it really shows you the all-in dent that is being made to your bottom line.

Some questions I like to ask: does it seem worth it? How much more good could you do with more being given? Could some focus help this figure be more meaningful? Does this seem big or small to you? Does it embarrass you, or do you want to shout it from the rooftops?

Money makes us feel funny things, so this number alone is a big one to know and understand.


7.     How much time have you given all together?

This is great to know, because 1. time is money and 2. where you spend your time is where you spend your life.

Most companies actually dedicate much less time than they think. So you do two volunteer days? That’s 16 hours (if we’re being generous) out of 2,080 hours. Ummm, not that much y’all.


8.     What is the impact you have made through your charitable partnerships?

Ideally you track this each time you do something so that you don’t have to go back and dig up ancient history.

Every time you volunteer or donate money, etc. you are creating some impact. Some ripple of good is being done, but WHAT IS THAT GOOD? You need to know this and believe in it. Your charitable partner should be able to shed light on that for you.

For example:

  1. How many people are being impacted by the Habitat for Humanity house that you helped build?
  2. How many people can be fed by the 5 cans of peanut butter you donated?
  3. How much does the risk of poverty decrease when you teach a child to read?


9.     How much of a dent have you made in your goal and mission?

This is my all time favorite, because if you even have a mission for the charitable work that you do, then it means you’re serious.

Having a focus on making an impact helps you track the progress on that impact – get in there and get to know the difference that you want to create in the world! Is it about reducing the poverty rate? If so, then teaching kids to read is HUGE, and you can in fact calculate the impact child by child. So if you want to reduce the rate of poverty in your city by 5% in the next 5 years, what’s your plan? How far have you gotten?

Those are the answers to seek out.

Now that all that measuring and craziness is on paper, how overwhelmed are you?? I know, it’s a lot. It’s like having your accountant ask for receipts at the end of the year, and you don’t have ANY. I’ve literally been there. Not fun.

This is a starting point though. Once you understand one year of giving, then you can bake it in for next year and track it all real time. There are national awards and recognition opportunities for this as well – think The Civic 50, The Sustainable Business Awards, etc.

I promise you, it’s worth it. 

If you'd like to book an audit with Abel Impact, we can do that! We will walk you through this step by step - think of us as charitable accountants! Inquire here: info@abelimpact.com