Building and Maintaining an Effective Social Impact Program

Building and Maintaining an Effective Social Impact Program
March 11, 2015 Doug Haslam

By Rich Maiore, Cone Communications

Social impact programs are strategic investments that can successfully communicate what a brand stands for, help drive positive societal impact and achieve a range of business objectives. These objectives include building and improving brand reputation, retaining and recruiting employees and increasing preference and purchase among consumers.

There are numerous factors critical to maintaining the success of your program. When it comes to consumers, it is important to ensure transparency of your mission and goals, demonstrate authentic alignment with the right social issue and consistently communicate the impact your efforts in compelling ways.

Equally important to a program’s long-term effectiveness is to ensure that internal stakeholders are engaged and ready to support your plans. Here are four critical factors you should consider to align your internal stakeholders with your social impact program:

Consensus. Confirm alignment and agreement among internal stakeholders on the business objectives of the program and clarity the department and individual roles. Unfortunately, many programs fail due to lack of agreement and accountability among key leaders.

Capacity. Ensure that you have enough talent and time allocated to the program to effectively execute. A truly successful program is embedded into the culture of an organization, with nearly all departments playing important roles. This cannot be a one-person operation.

Commitment. Take a long-term approach and make the necessary investments to achieve your program goals. Success around social impact programs does not happen overnight; it can’t be simply be a Q4 cause promotion. Programs can take up to three years to achieve strong momentum and maturity.

Champion. Recruit internal leaders to be strong advocates for the program. The best programs are built from the inside out, relying on senior leadership, as well as front-line employees, to participate, promote and advocate on behalf of the program.

Once an organization has these four critical elements in place, it can better measure social impact programs for impact and sustain them over time.

Post Author

As senior vice president of CSR Strategy at Cone Communications, Rich Maiore helps clients turn their philanthropic and sponsorship commitments into powerful brand-building opportunities that deliver social impact and business return.


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