HOW TO MAKE YOUR CSR REPORTING EASIER AND MORE EFFECTIVE

With CSR having become an important and mandatory activity in the Indian corporate segment, companies are investing serious time and money in this space. Having taken up various initiatives, it becomes mandatory for the organizations to also report what is being done under these initiatives during the year.

This reporting plays a critical role at various levels:

  1. Excellent material for PR with various stakeholders
  2. Generates employee engagement which is important to ensure project sustainability
  3. Regular documentation helps the HR / Finance departments appropriately track the progress being made in various initiatives over time.

Why you need a good CSR report
The CSR report, when compiled with a purpose can mobilize resources and create ample goodwill around the organization. As a communication expert, working with companies to develop the CSR reports and share these in a presentable format to their various audiences, I have often found some common gaps in data compilation. It would help for the CSR Team to keep these issues in mind during the year, when they are on the field, in midst of the community. Collection and proper documentation of this data at the time of the event will enable the external / internal Communication Team to present a more comprehensive report at the end of the year.

Checklist for the CSR team

  • Use a good quality digital camera to take photographs of the various activities done on the field – pictures taken with the mobile camera do not reproduce well.
  • Take pictures where the light is sufficient, and faces are not in the dark. Images where faces are in the dark cannot be used in the final reports.
  • While the effort is to show community development, and these are live pictures, show the difference your initiative is making in the community. Where possible, use community members and scenarios which are visually are pleasant.
  • Maintain details of your activities project wise, so it becomes easier for the third party Communication Agency to prepare your reports. Develop a format of reporting that all your CSR Leads will follow, this will help you to ensure all the key data has been recorded.
  • For each event, the team must record :
    – the objective of the initiative,
    – corporate team members involved,
    – activity done,
    – participation in actual numbers, (response to activity)
    – location of activity,
    – pictures of beneficiaries,
    – quotes from community leaders on the success of the event,
    – sustainability plans for the activity.
  • When sharing data with your communication agency, share your images as jpegs in the image folder, with a separate folder for each event.
  • At the same time, your draft report must carry the relevant images for the event, so the external team is better able to understand which images go with a particular write up.
  • Share the overall vision of the CSR initiatives, and get your CSR team to chat with the Communications Team. Often, documentation records facts, but misses out of significant soft skills milestones achieved on the field. These can be shared verbally, giving the Communications Team a feel of what has actually been achieved, how it has made a difference to the community and why the community is supporting the initiatives. These insights are often lost during the documentation of the activity done, yet are important to give a flavor and warm feel to your CSR reports that seeks to connect with the various stakeholders.
  • Give due credit to your CSR leads and field workers from the organization. This boosts their morale, gives them recognition among peers and inspires others to join the initiatives. Support from within the organization in very important to be able to sustain these projects over a long period of time.
  • Clearly define the figures that need to be shared with the audiences. Providing the Communications Team with data sheets or tables is meaningless, as they will not be able to interpret these facts. You need to clearly tell them what data you want to highlight and why.
  • Decide upfront what have been your most successful initiatives and how you wish to break up the data available: team wise or initiative wise.
  • You will need messages from senior management of the organization, start talking to them early on as these messages take time to come in. In case the Communications Agency is drafting these for you, ask for it in the initial days, to give you ample time for approvals and changes.
  • Be prepared to purchase stock images for key pages: cover, separators etc. Budget for these as most of the time, images taken by your people on the field will not lend themselves to enlargement to the required size.
  • Develop an online version of your CSR report, put up your data online. See how you can get someone to update this information on a monthly basis to keep it fresh.

If you have any queries regarding compiling a CSR report for your organization, do drop me a message in comment box below. I would be happy to help in any way possible! Cheers.

~ Bharti Athray

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2 thoughts on “HOW TO MAKE YOUR CSR REPORTING EASIER AND MORE EFFECTIVE

  1. Andrzej Chmielecki

    thank you for these valuable remarks, I would like to raise only two questions:
    1. remember about the relevant balance between promotional and informative roles of a given CSR report; the management should prevail proper proportions
    2. regarding an informative role, everyone has to keep in mind that each CSR report, even very modest, is expected to provide stakeholders with complex information – people used to read what has been published, but also regard unsatisfactory these pieces of information, which are short of
    best regards
    Andrzej Chmielecki

    Reply
    1. Bharti Athray Post author

      Thank you, Andrzej, for your comments. this is how I view these specific issues.
      1. I agree with you that the management must maintain an appropriate balance between the promotion and informational roles, hence it is important for the CSR team, and not just the Corporate Communications Team, to connect with the creative agency.
      2. As for the second point, while the data that comes in from the field over time is definitely complex; but the presentation must be effective and simple enough for the reader to comprehend the implications of the activities. There is a regular debate on whether teams must share numbers, which sometimes are far behind the set targets. Yet, the point that must be taken in to account is the fact that while absolute numbers may not be impressive, looking at the overall progress, one may be better able to judge the field team’s progress on a given project.

      Reply

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