How to write a CSR report?
A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report is a reflection of a company’s CSR effort. It exhibits how well the organization has been able to meet its sustainability goals and if not then why.
This blog is dedicated to exploring the nitty-gritty of writing an effective CSR report – one that is not only transparent and explanatory of its achievements and failures but also full of insights that could lead to tangible improvements in the campaign. Here, we shall share some quick tips for writing a robust and effective CSR report.
Focus on outcomes & not outputs
Many companies limit their reporting to the actions they took or the input they contributed like the number of hours, money donated. However, a good CSR report should include what outcome was achieved as a result of the input and actions. This might require you to have a clear impact strategy or Theory of Change to visualize your impact journey and then show the results along with those components. A major limitation of many sustainability and CSR reports is reporting output-level data. While most companies still do that, thought leaders are moving towards more rigorous & in-depth reporting, setting themselves apart from the competition.
The cardinal truth – be crystal clear about the issues that matter the most to your stakeholders. Assess your campaign’s performance on those parameters and communicate the results in a transparent manner. Also, monitor what your competition is reporting on and follow suit. Ensure addressing the right concerns.
Goals in sight, always
Go back to the goals that you first mentioned in your CSR statement, track your progress with respect to those goals and assess performance. Mention the specifics—your goals, ways undertaken to measure, track the progress and report the final result. Also, do not forget to include ways through which you propose to overcome obstacles, challenges and any shortfall.
Tip: Highlight the main points of your report by adding a brief and succinct summary at the top. Work on an outline so that the process of preparing the report is free from chaos and hassle.
Table of contents
Ideally, a CSR report should include an executive summary at the top, contact information should be clearly stated and not difficult to find. Begin by chalking out an introduction and list out issues addressed. Your report must clearly mention goals, your impact strategy or theory of change, a description of benchmarks and parameters of measurements, a statement on progress, a plan to overcome roadblocks, among other relevant details, and a closing statement.
Tip: Your report should be relevant to the stakeholders and easy to read to ensure engagement.
To make things clearer, let us refer to Artemis Impact’s report on Peduli Pangan – a collaborative project which focuses on food security during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report starts with stating the objective and a brief introduction to the project. It clearly states what the campaign set out to achieve and how the outcome has been measured. The program aimed to solve the problem of food insecurity caused by Covid-19 by:
- Sourcing food supplies from local farmers whose sales are affected due to the lockdown which is consequently transported to soup kitchens set up by the project
- Distributing cooked food to densely populated areas to ensure food security for those who lost source of income
The report lists out the target goal outcome as well as key activities undertaken under a realistic timeline. Then comes measuring the outcomes and explaining the Theory of Change.
For example, the outcome that farmers could sell more products with the help of the program was measured by:
(a) Percentage of farmers able to sell more products with the help of the program
(b) Average percentage increase in sales
The data procured supported that 100% of farmers were able to sell more products with the help of the Peduli Pangan program, all farmers were able to increase their revenue.
The report was also supported by stakeholders’ testimonials on how the program benefitted them as well as the community. It also mentioned what changes were incorporated in the project throughout the campaign and unexpected events that took place. A dedicated section on learnings was incorporated at the end of the report which could provide insights into what went wrong, what worked, and areas of improvement.
Keeping the above-mentioned points in mind will definitely aid in writing a robust and engaging CSR report. The significance of an effective CSR report must not be questioned, it is not a mere document and its creation should not be cast aside as a trivial exercise. A well-rounded and engaging CSR report will not only help in securing, even enhancing, stakeholders’ trust but also allow you to create more impact, boost the company’s corporate reputation, revenue and attract new customers, talent, and investors. When used strategically, it can act as a tool to further the organization’s growth and even open new avenues.
Read also: CSR: Benefits of CSR