The Challenge

Companies are struggling to quantify the impact of CSR on ROI. While many studies exist about the business value of social and environmental programs, CSR and corporate citizenship, most speak to an academic audience. Their methodologies remain unclear and unconvincing to corporate decision makers and investors. Without the credible research to support a business case, senior executives too often must rely on anecdotes, intuition, or faith that these initiatives will support, and not detract from, business performance. As leading companies commit to a wide range of CSR practices, external stakeholders demand greater scope and scale of commitments. Executives need a more convincing business case in order to maintain, and potentially expand, the level of CSR investments their company makes. 

The Response

Project ROI was led by business. With the primary audience defined as members of the C-Suite, senior executives set the questions that they need answered to find the research credible and persuasive. Project ROI rigorously and persuasively investigated the potential ROI corporate responsibility (CR) can deliver across share price, revenue, costs, reputation and brand, HR, risk, and license to operate, how a company should structure its CR efforts to deliver ROI, and how to communicate the business case to executives. The result was clear findings that CR has the potential to deliver an attractive business case. The question is not whether to engage in CR programs, but how. Project ROI establishes the potential returns on investment CR can deliver, and goes further to support that it's not enough to do CR, one must do it well. Project ROI defines a clear roadmap of essential practices for companies that want to improve the impact and value of their CR and sustainability performance.

The Team

The project will be led by IO Sustainability and Babson College, two organizations known for their combination of analytic rigor, experience with business and CR, a pragmatic yet rigorous approach, and an ability to communicate effectively. IO’s founders Steve Rochlin and Stephen Jordan have built an internationally known reputation and have led initiatives and published leading research on CR measurement. The Babson College team will be led by Professor of Finance Richard Bliss and Cheryl Kiser​, executive director of The Lewis Institute for Social Innovation and The Babson Social Innovation Lab. Bliss is a former CFO. His current work includes research and application into the financial outcomes from social innovation. Kiser leads Babson’s work in integrating social innovation and social value creation into both curricular and co-curricular activities with a particular lens on the alignment between shareholder and stakeholder value.

Verizon and the Campbell Soup Company have joined this landmark initiative as lead sponsors. We invite your company to join Babson College and IO Sustainability on Project ROI.