I had tremendous feedback from the measuring ROI commentary last week. But a recent encounter at an industry social event encouraged me to take another look at defining “success” versus “ROI.” When I speak at conferences, or even over roundtable discussions or lunch, I often get pushback around measuring ROI. The comment is, “There is more to a business’s success factor of their investment in a sponsorship than just how many more widgets they sold or employees they recruited. There is the social impact of what they have done. Look at how many people they saved from hardship on the street, or how many kids got Christmas presents this year that would not have if it weren’t for the sponsorship, or how we have come closer to funding the cure for this or that disease.”
In answer to those comments, when I am really looking to push some buttons, I pull out my Scrooge lines like “Are there no workhouses. Are there no prisons?” Then I go on to say something like, “That is all well and good, but if the company is not profitable, it cannot give to causes. Altruism and philanthropy come from people, from individuals, not from companies.” That last one really gets the conversation going.
The point I try to make is that social good is critical, but when it comes to a company’s bottom line, the sponsorship must, first and foremost, have a business return on its investment. (True, good corporate citizenry with causes that align to employees produce happier employees which produce better productivity and thus better profits. Heck… see.. it really does come back to ROI!)
I watch other consulting firms try to measure “success” of sponsorship on the social impact. Terrific— but if there is no business ROI, the social impact will be short lived. For many of our clients, we look at “accounting” or “ledger” approaches. What are the measurable social impacts we are looking for our partner property to achieve with us? Also, what are our business goals and objectives (as per last week’s TMC)? They are parallel tracks. Both must deliver a positive impact. It is about more than just “investing in the community.” It is about investing in the community, measuring results and impact, and ensuring that the business is growing and prospering. Truly successful companies measure both when they are measuring success.
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