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12 Sep. 2014 | Comments (0)

“Focus” appears to be the theme of the week in the philanthropy sector. On Wednesday, we republished a piece from Exponent Philanthropy, which showcased an example of the success one foundation had in targeting its funding on one particular cause. Also released this week was The Corporate Signature Program: A Custom Approach to Philanthropy, a report by Global Impact that examines the growing trend of companies to direct charitable contributions to “signature programs” that target a specific cause issue, or theme.

According to the report, which cites trends from Giving in Numbers: 2013 Edition, signature programs have become a best practice in corporate community funding. Global Impact says this is because, among other reasons, these programs “require measurement and evaluation to continue to make the business case for the investment.”

New data from Giving in Numbers: 2014 Edition, which will be published by CECP in association with The Conference Board this fall, reveal that the vast majority of companies are indeed directing their impact measurement resources toward a set number of grants, rather than evaluating their entire grant portfolios. And of those companies that only measure specific grants, around half only measure grants that go towards these so-called “signature programs”.

Thorough impact analysis to come?

Global Impact highlights three case studies from Microsoft, Deere & Company, and W.W. Grainger. There are plenty of other examples as well, such as Cisco’s Networking Academy, but I’ve not yet seen a really comprehensive impact assessment from any of these. It is of course very early to expect that, particularly as many of these programs have only been developed in the past few years.

Nonetheless, if enhanced impact measurement is one of the goals of a clearly developing trend toward “signature programs”, we should start to see some interesting analyses in due course.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for the latest Giving in Numbers report next month. We will announce the publication on this blog, and it will be available to download for free from The Conference Board and CECP.  

  • About the Author:Alex Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson is Principal of Parky Communications, a communications agency specializing in sustainability and CSR reporting and communications. He serves as the Co-Leader of The Conference Board Cor…

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