Capacity building by sharing our skills

We’ve measured the value of our investment in community work for many years using the London Benchmarking Group’s (LBG) well established methodology. This year we contributed over £6.4m in total, through a combination of cash donations and sponsorships, pro bono and discounted work and the time we spend volunteering.

But measuring our investment only tells part of the story. We’re increasingly trying to measure the benefits resulting from our support - ultimately we will seek to value our impact in monetary terms, using our TIMM methodology.

We’ve still got a way to go, but we’re making good progress. We measure the business and social impacts of our programmes, through the evaluation work we do with volunteers and beneficiaries, and we also now publish our beneficiary data. This year we supported around 18,500 beneficiaries in our communities, and the social impacts of our volunteering programmes are reported in our 2014 Corporate Sustainability update.

Our approach

We measure our inputs as a simple way of assessing our community activity each year, and to help us benchmark against other companies. But our approach also looks at the ‘outputs’ of our investment.

This means understanding more about the different programmes we run and the different groups of people who benefit from each of our programmes. It’s an emerging area in community reporting. Of the 18,500 beneficiaries of our volunteering this year, school children constitute the largest group, and we’re increasingly working with social enterprises.

Measuring the actual benefits of our community activities – the ‘outcomes’ – is the next step towards understanding our social impact, and it also helps us to assess the effectiveness of our programmes. This year we’ve measured social impacts across a range of our programmes.

Opportunities and risks

There are few risks associated with our community involvement, although we're careful not tofall foul of our independence and compliance policies. More importantly, it’s an opportunity for our people to get involved in a range of ways, to follow their interests, to gain new experiences and skills and to actively support the communities in which we are based.

Programmes

Understanding our social outcomes

We’ve worked for many years with schools near our offices, supporting literacy, numeracy and mentoring programmes, as well as raising employability skills and business awareness. Our programmes aim to raise the employability prospects of those pupils closest to the job market. We work with social enterprises to support some of the most vulnerable members of society. We provide mentoring and business skills training to these individuals, and assist the organisations who work to support them. We also work with a range of other organisations that support some of the vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society.

We’ve surveyed more of our beneficiaries than ever before, so that we can assess the outcomes of our activities. The results (see below) suggest that our programmes have a really positive effect, raising aspirations, helping people to get ready for the world of work and helping them to be more effective within it.

We’ll continue to survey our social outcomes so we can tailor our programmes to be of most use to our beneficiaries.

Benefits of our programme 1
Benefits of our programme

Understanding our business outcomes

Volunteering doesn’t only help the communities we support. It also benefits our people by providing ways to:

  • develop additional skills outside of their normal work environment, such as coaching and mentoring;
  • build teams and networks inside and outside our firm;
  • develop deep empathy and open-mindedness, which will improve all their day to day relationships;
  • develop a greater awareness of community and social issues – so that they gain a better understanding of sustainability and are therefore well positioned to advise our clients about it.

We ask our volunteers about the effect our programmes have on them, and we’ve extended these business impact surveys to cover all our programmes. The results highlight how volunteering makes a positive difference to our people’s engagement, skills and networks - which in turn contribute to our success in the marketplace - although we aren’t yet able to measure the monetary value.

See our lessons learned report, The business benefits of mentoring social entrepreneurs, for more on the business benefits one of our most important programmes.

Find out how measuring our community impacts fits within our total impact.