History of the CGS
When the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) was founded in 1999, corporate giving was in many cases unmeasured, unconnected to the rest of the business, and often reactive. In response, the Corporate Giving Standard (CGS) measurement initiative was implemented in 2001 to provide companies with a tool to measure and contextualize their charitable contributions.
More than ten years later, increased participation in CECP’s CGS measurement initiative is indicative of advancement in the field, growing from 17 companies providing 2001 giving data to more than 210 companies providing 2011 data.
To garner both corporate support and recognition, there were three initial goals for the CGS initiative: to be rigorous in terms of valuation guidance and analysis; to encourage and increase corporate participation; and to be useful to companies in their efforts to advance corporate community involvement. To achieve those objectives, CECP took the following steps:
- Developed comprehensive survey questions and valuation guidance: The survey and valuation guide were developed in tandem with some of the largest companies in the U.S., lending credibility and ensuring relevance. CECP’s analysis of the survey results in published research reports increased the efficacy of the initiative, as did extensive trainings with survey respondents to ensure understanding of the valuation guidance. The CGS soon became the accepted framework in the U.S. for valuing and reporting corporate giving.
- Recruited corporate champions: These early supporters, representing some of the largest companies in the U.S., were leaders in the corporate giving arena, and trend-setters overall. As such, their participation not only in the measurement initiative, but also in CEO and giving officer events, further encouraged other companies to join.
- Designed an on-demand technology platform:The technology platform had a few critical features that were influential in furthering the initiative’s success: web-based and accessible from anywhere; confidential with access only provided to members and subscribers who completed the survey; user-friendly, with preset reports offering customized benchmarking groups; and flexible, where the data and reports could be extracted for internal reports or presentations. The CGS system currently contains more than $100 billion in cash and product giving, with more than $15.5 billion alone reported in 2010. Member companies value the system not only for the benchmarking capabilities, but for the opportunity to have constant access to an updated repository of historical contributions information.
- Dedicated organizational resources to developing the initiative: CECP staff worked with companies to ensure accurate interpretation of the valuation guidance, and to provide technical support in navigating the survey entry and reporting system. Even though the survey has become more routine for companies and the benchmarking system more familiar, CECP staff continues to help members realize the value in their participation.
Beginning with the survey of 2011 contributions, CECP began conducting the Corporate Giving Standard (CGS) survey in association with The Conference Board.
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