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Moving Forward and Planning for a Post-Covid World Through Data

By Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas and Martina Lee, Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas is Managing Director, CECP; Martina Lee is Communications & Marketing Fellow

As companies face the wider economic impacts of Covid-19, CECP is tracking the ongoing decision making and planning of leaders during this monumental year that still has an uncertain future. As we move through this pandemic and gradual economic improvement, CECP is also collecting real-time data from companies through a series of Pulse surveys, helping our partners gauge current practices in the field. There is a progression to these insights over the past several months of Pulse surveys.

An early April survey on 2020 budget changes revealed that 45% of companies predicted an increase in their community investment 2020 budget to respond to the Covid-19 crisis with another 37% of companies stating it will remain the same amount yet repurposed for Covid-19 response. By the beginning of May, 64% of companies predict that their 2021 community investment budgets will remain the same with another 18% predicting it will increase some or a lot. We do know that for another 18% of companies that planning ahead predicts a decrease of some or a lot of their budget. Many companies noted the need for rounds of community investments: they responded with urgency for a phase 1 in March and April, and they are preparing for a phase 2 and 3 as community needs evolve and continually change on the ground, considering issues such as states reopening and outbreaks may grow, and months of food insecurity and job losses will impact the food safety net system.

CECP has also tracked the unique actions that companies made with 84% of companies reporting they took an “out of the box” response to Covid-19. 68% of companies immediately donated goods and services normally held as their own inventory (e.g., paper products, PPE) or sold to customers (e.g., pro bono technology services, school curriculum). 47% of companies redeployed their staff time in areas such as virtual volunteering, scientists working on open sourced code for ventilators, or other society-focused actions. Many other ways have companies adapted their employees and business to address the demands of this moment including contributing materials, distribution, and re-tooling manufacturing.

Once the global community has emerged from the Covid-19 crisis, we will turn again to the data before and after Covid-19 to understand shifts in corporate social investments. Our Data Insights team has moved forward with collecting 2019 data for Giving in Numbers, and we look forward to releasing the report later this year.

Reflecting the latest developments and needs in the field of corporate social responsibility, Giving in Numbers has two important new highlights this year, which marks its 15th anniversary. This year’s survey launched with new questions to enrich CECP’s cutting-edge Total Social Investment research, in order to holistically capture the broadening depth and breadth of corporate social investments. These questions cover measurement and evaluation practices, business ROI, and measurement as a management tool. The survey also enquires about C-suite buy-in for programs including the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and private sector partnerships. Collecting this data will help track and inform companies of advancements and evolutions in the practice of social investments.

To expand the reach and enhance the interactivity with Giving in Numbers data, CECP has also launched Innovation Partnerships with Benevity and YourCause, a part of Blackbaud. This new model of collaboration will put companies’ needs at the forefront and assist them to easily pull their companies’ data. CECP continually strives to make our data more easily and readily accessible  for our partners, arming them with the information they need to stay advanced, informed, and strategic about their work.

As companies increasingly incorporate the needs of their broader stakeholders, measuring corporate social investments is vital to growing the practice effectively. As a trusted advisor to our affiliated companies, we will continue to partner with them to advance strategy, measure business impact, and navigate through this uncertain climate.