Cone Launches Social/Business Return Indicator sm

Cone expands cause consulting services with distinct capability to measure business and social outcomes of cause-related efforts


BOSTON (November 12, 2007) – As corporate philanthropy and cause-related investments accelerate beyond the $12.72 billion mark (Giving USA 2007), executives face increasing pressure to validate their social and business returns. Building upon its 27-year history of providing cutting edge cause-related innovations, Cone LLC, in partnership with True Impact LLC, is launching the Social/Business Return Indicatorsm, a first-of-its-kind service that measures the business and social outcomes of cause initiatives.

“The days of giving because it is a ‘nice to do’ are over,” says Alison DaSilva, vice president of knowledge leadership & insights, Cone. “Aligning with a cause has become a powerful business strategy for strengthening brands and building relationships with key stakeholders, while creating meaningful social benefit. In today’s bottom-line environment, expectations for delivering results are high, yet executives are unsure of how or what to measure. The Cone Social/Business Return Indicator arms executives with sought-after business and social outcomes data and strategies to achieve a stronger return on investment.”

The Social/Business Return Indicator, available now to current and new clients, simplifies what many people consider a complex task. Using a new Web-based ROI modeling software program and consulting expertise, Cone leads clients through the process and deliverables, which include:

  • Identifying stakeholders and assessing related impacts, including key brand drivers, sales, productivity, recruiting, retention, risk mitigation and benefits to society
  • Determining bottom-line outcomes, including revenues and cost savings or social objectives, using existing data and third-party research
  • Calculating bottom-line results using ratings and/or quantitative calculations
  • Providing measurement and strategic program recommendations to enhance business and social objectives

"Participating in the Cone Social/Business Return Indicator pilot added to PNC's development of a framework for measuring the outcomes of PNC Grow Up Great, the most comprehensive corporate based school readiness program in the country," says Eva Blum, senior vice president and director of community affairs, PNC Bank. "Going through the process helped us collect siloed data throughout the company and identify alternative ways to find important data. Cone’s Social/Business Return Indicator helped us confirm our assessment of the value of Grow Up Great."

The tool is valuable to executives seeking counsel in the following areas:

  • Making the business case internally to further position programs for a high return
  • Identifying which programs and program elements work and which do not
  • Reallocating existing resources
  • Forecasting for additional resources
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of different types of communication
  • Investing and giving more strategically for stronger business and social outcomes

As Farron Levy, CEO of True Impact, explains, “In beta-testing the Cone Social/Business Return Indicator in the financial service and insurance industries, we proved that measurement data are far more available–and far easier to access–than our clients expected. It’s all a matter of tracking down the right people within the company and the nonprofit partners." Cone and True Impact then fill in any gaps by tapping their existing data and third-party resources, he notes. “Both pilot companies, PNC and Allstate, were satisfied to see the results of their investments and a clear roadmap for enhancing their initiatives to better meet their objectives.”

The product, available to both clients with programs created by Cone and to those whose programs were developed internally or by a third party, is customizable for companies’ needs and budgets. Users may choose from a variety of options:

  • Complete program assessment, measuring impacts on all business and social outcomes
  • Condensed version focused on select outcomes, such as sales, recruiting and/or social value
  • Diagnostic analyses, abbreviated qualitative-only evaluations to develop an inventory of social and business impacts and frameworks
  • Subscription-only setup, permitting access to the Web-based tool for clients to input data and retrieve calculations on their own

“The Cone Social/Business Return Indicator is critical to helping companies enhance their programs to better meet business and social objectives,” says DaSilva. “By measuring the impacts of each component of a cause program, companies will be able point to the bottom-line as they make the case to reallocate existing and/or secure new resources.”


For more information regarding the Cone Social/Business Return Indicator please contact Caryn B. Lazaroff at