This is another post on measuring economic value from the kinds of activities Acara promotes. The first post was about measuring the value from the activity of the NGO or small business. That is important of course. But another important view is from the large corporation. Large companies try to be green and sustainable, and have good CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs. How do companies measure the impact of their efforts? Can it actually be tracked and measured in some way?

There is a very well done study of this, done by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, entitled: “How Virtue Creates Value for Business and Society”. (registration required to download). They define a path to value in four major categories

  • Growth: new markets, new products, new customers, innovation.
  • Return on Capital: operational efficiency, reputation premium
  • Risk Management: regulatory risk, security of supply chain, reputation risk.
  • Management Quality: Leadership development, adaptability, long term strategic view.

I like this comprehensive view. It takes into account both hard and soft measures. From Acara’s standpoint, we can’t address all of these issues for a corporate sponsor but we can address some key points. A big focus of the background of the founders and other board members is growth and management development. The Acara businesses will add a lot of innovation and new market development, that can be utilized at some point by larger corporations. Likewise the involvement of individuals as mentors to the classes and teams will have a big impact on the personal growth of those individuals. I have definitely seen that both in High Tech Kids and Acara.

It’s interesting that all the work to measure economic value from NGO/social businesses, that was covered in a previous blog, doesn’t really seem to be connected to this work on measuring value for corporates. The actual social impact value (better public health for example) doesn’t seem to be a factor for corporates. It helps with reputation and indirectly with some of the things like long term strategic view, leadership growth, but it is not an explicit factor. I think the conclusion there is that there is probably a sweet spot for an organization that can show how a program can show the economic value return from a social business and map that directly to the things that corporates care about. That is a win-win for everyone.