South African companies invest billions of rands into their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, with many choosing to partner with selected schools in an effort to improve our nationals math and science marks. However, these programs often lack the insights and level of detail needed to determine how effective their initiatives really are.
While schooling around the country has been brought to a halt as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this provides organisations an opportune time to take a closer look at their investments to date – to go beyond simply ensuring compliance with national legislation or company policy, and to see whether they are making an actual impact in the lives of learners. Implementation partners of educational programs are often unable to do this due to the fact that they are struggling to store, manage, structure and interpret their ‘social development’ data correctly.
Fundamentally, this requires a solution that is able to collate the disparate data in one place and provide the flexibility required to draw more accurate reports on individual learners, identify trends, and highlight challenges that can be addressed more effectively – something that is made possible through specialist software.
As CSR program managers may each have different objectives, in-depth scoping helps customise a reporting solution that aligns with how each company defines the success of specific corporate social responsibility programmes. It also requires the ability to integrate historical data and uncover past trends, as well as identify and map the projection of math and science improvements for cohorts of the education support programs.
This consultative approach is essential to gain a better understanding around expectations of how data must be managed, and how technology can be used to enhance what is already available to us
It further means that the solution can be rolled out in phases, showing results from day 1 – implement, show results, and progress to the next step – analysing more sources of information – made possible through significant back-end data management.
This provides implementation partners and investors or donors with comprehensive insights: in the case of a client supporting a dozen schools, it meant learning more about individual students, while being able to generate visually rich, dynamic reports helps highlight the correlation between a learner’s marks, their aptitude, and whether their results have improved or worsened, all from a single learner profile view.
Having easy access to such a detailed level of information can play a critical role in assuring companies that their corporate social responsibility educational support initiatives are having a meaningful impact on the intended recipients. Using the right platforms to visually transform the data helps to clearly highlight the successes as well as areas of concern where such projects can be improved, such as a trend of a class showing underwhelming results and significant improvements. It points the program managers in the right direction, by offering a view of what has been in front of them the whole time.
All of this empowers CSR stakeholders to understand their investments better, to know what is possible through their educational support initiatives, and delivers the level of data analysis detail required by the internal data and IT teams. With an increased focus on social responsibility and tighter legislation in the coming years, it will become increasingly important for organisations to ensure that they not only report on what they have done, but can provide an audit trail on the results.
However, such technology can be used for more than just CSR or corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives. It can help effectively reflect client data for learner management systems, sustainability, impact investment, and transformation initiatives for a variety of organisations, ranging from JSE-listed companies, to SMEs, universities, NGOs and even individuals using platforms – with reporting being customised to reflect the needs of the organisation, such for Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) or carbon emissions data driven decisions are becoming possible for more individuals.
Organisations must be able to see the data for what it is and more accurately determine whether the resources they invest in a program are benefitting its participants. Being able to demonstrate the discernible impact their projects are having on the lives of learners not only demonstrates a return on investment to stakeholders but gets employees to care about what their company is doing on a more connected, personal level.