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As COVID-19 continues to inflict its toll, companies, governments, and individuals have stepped up their philanthropic investments to address the health, economic, and social fallout. Despite these efforts, one question persists in the minds of all types of donors: what does it really cost to make an impact on someone’s life? To date, the field has not had the ability to answer that question – until now.
Launched today by The Conference Board in collaboration with the Impact Genome Project® and with support from Moody’s, a new suite of benchmarking tools will enable companies, governments and individuals to evaluate and optimize their societal investments. The goal is to help donors produce more efficient and effective outcomes.
“With philanthropic and government spending at unsustainable levels, now more than ever, we need a way to rationalize our resources and maximize our ‘bang for the buck’ so that we can help as many people as possible,” said Jason Saul, CEO of the Impact Genome Project®.
Anchoring the digital hub is the Price of Impact (POI) Index™. The tool, which was developed by the Impact Genome Project®, tracks how much it costs to solve problems in 100 different areas of social impact, including the arts, education, and the environment. Updated monthly, the POI Index™ uses inputs from thousands of US-based nonprofits and social programs to create cost-per-outcome averages. For instance, last month, the POI Index™ listed providing one person with a month of hunger relief at $533, compared to $66 for reducing one person’s carbon footprint (such as increasing an individual’s short-term likelihood to recycle or purchase solar panels).
The Conference Board’s flagship report, Data-Driven Corporate Philanthropy: The Revolutionary Potential to Change Lives, was based on data from the POI Index™. Findings from the report include the following:
Higher costs-per-outcome (CPO) often address issues that disproportionately affect minorities.
- Costs-per-outcome (CPO) vary widely, with short-term changes far more affordable than long-term ones. Across the POI Index, CPOs range from $73 (conservation awareness and responsibility) to $403,070 (affordable permanent housing for one family).
- As companies increasingly pivot to address social justice issues, they should target their social investments to specific outcomes that deliver the progress they can afford, alongside the impact they seek.
COVID-19’s fallout will likely raise the cost of economic development outcomes – which is already relatively high – as the pandemic continues to increase demand for areas like job training and personal finance education.
- Economic development includes a range of short- and long-term outcomes, including providing one person with a financial literacy course ($414), stimulating entrepreneurship through increased access to capital, markets, and information ($1,544), and helping one person acquire full-time employment ($9,331).
- As COVID-19 continues to adversely affect the economy, both demand for these types of programs and their costs are likely to increase.
COVID-19 could force companies to shift from focusing on long-term to short-term impacts, especially when it comes to education.
- Education has been a corporate philanthropy priority in recent years. However, due to the immediate upheaval brought about by COVID-19, education could take a backseat to more pressing short-term needs, such as feeding families, taking care of vulnerable people and workers, improving opportunities for racial minorities, and getting people back to work in the forthcoming recession.
- At the same time, the focus of education philanthropy is likely to shift toward meeting short-term needs such as helping children adapt to online learning, including in many cases supplying computers and digital tools to children.
“In an era where corporations are on the front lines in addressing major societal issues, corporate philanthropy is one of the key tools at their disposal to have an impact. As businesses give generously, they must also give wisely,” said Paul Washington, Executive Director of the ESG Center of The Conference Board. “That is our purpose with this launch: to enable philanthropic dollars to do more. This is a transformative opportunity.”
The hub also offers member-exclusive programming, including briefings from the Impact Genome Project®. Visit the Optimizing Societal Impact hub to explore all the latest reports, insights, and tools from The Conference Board.
About The Conference Board
The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States. www.conference-board.org
About The Impact Genome Project®
The Impact Genome Project® (IGP) is a field-wide, systematic effort to standardize measurement, reporting, and evidence for the world’s most common social outcomes. The data and tools of the IGP enable funders, policymakers, and practitioners to allocate grant dollars based on impact, to design and implement effective interventions, to benchmark results, and to ultimately solve social problems more efficiently.
Moody’s (NYSE:MCO) is a global risk assessment firm that empowers organizations to make better decisions. Its data, analytical solutions and insights help decision-makers identify opportunities and manage the risks of doing business with others. We believe that greater transparency, more informed decisions, and fair access to information open the door to shared progress. With over 11,400 employees in more than 40 countries, Moody’s combines international presence with local expertise and over a century of experience in financial markets. Learn more at moodys.com/about.
Moody’s builds toward a world where more people have access to opportunity, and where everyone has what they need to grow and thrive. We are committed to opening the door to brighter futures through our global corporate social responsibility programs connecting people around the world with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed. For more information visit moodys.com/csr.