Benchmark 10

Set up your feedback loop



Benchmark 10: “Set up your feedback loop” ensures your CSR operations don’t run in a vacuum.

Benchmark 10 Components:

  1. Well-established ROI measurement / future programme design
  2. Opportunities for leaders, employees, third-parties to participate in future strategic planning


1. Well-established ROI measurement / future programme design

Many companies with best practice had a formal feedback loop to learn from “in the field” experience of prior volunteer programmes to improve going forward. For example, Gap Inc. utilise data of previous beneficiaries to determine the areas to focus on in future programmes i.e. those where student skills improvement was weakest.


The local offices at Square and Accenture each have a “CSR board” that meets periodically to review such performance.


In education specifically, part of Pearson’s product development process is to seek “in-the-field” input from various on-campus Student Ambassadors and Student Insiders that the company appoints.


2. Opportunities for leaders, employees, third-parties to participate in future strategic planning

The most genuine, sustainable and effective kind of corporate philanthropy is one that bubbles up from employees themselves.


Six-year old startup Panorama Education like ideas for community engagement to come directly from employees, and this approach seems to work even as they have doubled in size to 80 employees within the two years.


Casper, a start-up selling mattresses direct to consumers, conducted an internal hackathon to seek employee recommendations on how to improve as a company. Working towards B Corp status was identified as something employees wanted, and so they decided to go for it.


Indeed, such an approach can work well for much larger companies too. Warner Bros’ programme grew entirely out of employee demand for a “civic engagement outlet”. Of course, employee contributions aren’t without management oversight but the grassroots nature of their engagement is essential to keeping employees engaged in volunteering long-term and maintaining their above-average 31% employee participation rate – astonishing for a company of their size.


With regards to third-parties, it seems best for companies to utilise outside experts (who often have effective infrastructure in place) and resist the urge to create their volunteer programmes from scratch, however it is important to ensure an open channel of communication to learn from each other (even if the partnership wasn’t successful), as well as share data sets and impact measurement, rather than just leaving them to it.

What each tier does well

Established Company


Established companies were comparatively strong in feeding data into future programme design and measuring ROI (scoring 3.56/5 on avg), often capturing data specifically for this purpose (e.g. Pearson recruiting “Student Ambassadors” on-campus to feed into programme design).


Did tech help?
Use of tech was only moderately correlated to high-performance for this tier (0.55 at 99% CI). Some companies utilised third-party data evaluators in programme design, whereas others were confident in their own internal teams (such as at Deloitte). 



High-Growth companies performed the best at allowing employees and third-parties to contribute to future volunteer initiatives, perhaps contributing to high employee involvement in volunteering even as the companies grow in size.


Did tech help?
Beyond regular mention of online surveys and company social networks / collaboration tools to aid input for the CSR team, tech was not actually significantly correlated to high-performance in this area.



SMEs tended to perform strongly on this benchmark and in particular had a strong culture for using data in programme design & decision making.


Did tech help?
Use of technology was strongly correlated to high performance on this benchmark (0.79 at 99% CI), with most utilising third-party online data analytics tools of some kind (Looker is one such example). 

Filling the gaps

Toggle through each tier below to explore the weakest areas of performance against this benchmark:


How tech might help

Whilst tech was strongly correlated to having a strong process for utilising data in future programme design, for all tiers the use of tech was only weakly correlated to company-wide (and third-party partner) involvement in future programme design.


It seemed that rather a “learning culture” within the company was much more prevalent in high performance of this benchmark.

Case Studies:

Tech as an enabler

Warner Bros Logo

The Burbank (California) team at Warner Bros. conduct regular online employee surveys and focus groups to help them understand employees’ volunteering motivations & sentiment. The volunteer programme includes weekday, weekend, day and evening options to meet the needs of employees, and such feedback continues to help keep their volunteering initiatives relevant and interesting, with a fresh new focus on what they do best: “storytelling.”

Keeping a close eye on the data, the team are able to shape their programmes accordingly. For example, through the help of tech platform Benevity, the data suggested that volunteering participation was strong up to the Director level, after which it tailed off, something that has also been seen across other companies. Warner Bros. was then able to establish a more targeted approach to engaging such pockets of employees and maintain their above-average 35% employee participation rate – astonishing for a company of their size.

Education-specific best practice

Coca Cola Logo

Coca Cola previously ran annual events welcoming nearly 15,000 students on-site for factory tours & classroom learning sessions, led by employee volunteers.

For the students to attend, a school must apply and include details of what subjects they’d like Coca Cola to deliver. Whilst, as of 2018, the company no longer offer this, it’s a great example of a feedback loop in action: the upfront feedback aids the design of the volunteer programme.


Goodwill Logo

Goodwill have a network of 161 independent charity stores across the US & Canada each of which reinvests earnings back into the local community. For underemployed or unemployed job-seekers, Goodwill also offers high school diploma qualifications and paid roles within their retail stores. Through conducting a skills assessment of their employees whilst on the job, they’re able to inform the content of future Goodwill training.

An interesting initiative of the Goodwill Silicon Valley branch is their Neurodiversity Integration Service which generates feedback from local tech employers, experts and neurodiverse individuals to drive the inclusion of neurodivergent/autistic individuals into the surrounding tech workplaces through Goodwill’s curriculum.


Square Logo

Square, a global startup providing point of sale payment solutions, approach future design and volunteer planning from the ground up. Each local office has a quarterly cross-functional volunteer committee (known as “Volunteams”) who meet to evaluate the most effective and trending volunteer initiatives at the local level. “Volunteams” formally report back to HQ to request support and funding, giving HQ an “in the field” view of localised employee sentiment.

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