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Glossary of Terms

Following are definitions of terms used in The Civic 50 survey:

Business Outcomes/Impacts: Changes in business performance as a result of a Community Engagement Program.  Examples include increasing sales, reducing costs, or improving drivers of productivity such as brand recognition or employee engagement. Although the precise definitions of the evaluation terms “impact” and “outcome” differ slightly, for the purposes of The Civic 50 they are interchangeable.

Cause Marketing: A marketing effort pursued by a company that also aims to raise awareness, money, and/or consumer engagement for a social cause/issue. Also known as cause-related marketing.

Community Engagement: A company’s efforts to mitigate social causes/issues such as hunger, poverty, environmental degradation, for example, and/or to promote the public good, including economic development, education and social justice, for example. Community engagement is implemented through employee volunteering including extra-hands and pro bono and other skills-based service; monetary giving; in-kind giving and social cause leadership.

Community Engagement Program (CEP): The totality of a company’s formal community engagement efforts to mitigate social causes/issues such as hunger, poverty, environmental degradation, for example, and/or to promote the public good, including economic development, education and social justice, for example. Community Engagement Program elements include employee volunteering including pro- bono and other skills-based service, monetary giving, in-kind giving and social cause leadership.

Community Partners: Organizations working to mitigate social causes/issues and/or promote the common good to which a corporation contributes employee volunteer (including extra-hands volunteering and pro-bono and skills-based service), financial, in-kind or leadership resources at least once per year. Community partners are typically US tax-exempt status organizations, but can also be organizations with an alternative tax status that promote progress on a social cause/issue including social enterprises, public schools and military entities.

Company-sponsored Volunteerism: Volunteer activities performed by employees in which the company invests non-negligible resources by dedicating staff time to organize the activities, paying intermediaries or community organizations to organize the activities,, issuing “dollars-for-doers” grants or paying employee salaries or wages, for example. Common forms of this activity can include, but are not limited to painting community partner buildings, conducting environmental cleanup and mentoring students, amongst others. Employee volunteers and employee volunteer hours submitted as part of the Civic 50 application need to be part of a volunteer activity supported through company resources, as defined in this paragraph.

Dollars-for-Doers Grants: A program in which the company contributes a grant to a community partner (see definition) where an employee or a team of employees volunteers.

Employee: A person on the company payroll for full-or part-time work. Temporary and intermittent employees are included, as are any employees who are on paid sick leave, on paid holiday, or who work during only part of the specified pay period. Proprietors, self-employed, unpaid family or volunteer workers are excluded.

Employee Volunteering: Volunteer activities performed by employees in which the company invests non-negligible resources by dedicating staff time to organize the activities, paying intermediaries or community organizations to organize the activities, issuing “dollars-for-doers” grants or paying employee salaries or wages, for example. Common forms of this activity can include, but are not limited to painting community partner buildings, conducting environmental cleanup and mentoring students, amongst others. Employee volunteers and employee volunteer hours submitted as part of the Civic 50 application need to be part of a volunteer activity supported through company resources, as defined in this paragraph.

Employee Volunteer Program: The totality of company efforts to support employee volunteering (see definition above) by investing non-negligible resources such as staff time to organize volunteer activities, paying intermediaries or community organizations to organize volunteer activities, issuing “dollars-for- doers” grants or paying employee salaries or wages during the time they volunteer, for example. Employee volunteers and employee volunteer hours submitted as part of the Civic 50 application need to be part of a volunteer activity supported through company resources, as defined in this paragraph.

Hands On Volunteering (also known as traditional and extra hands volunteering): Employee volunteering (see definition) that does not involve applying the employee’s workplace skills.

In-kind Contributions: Goods, products, services, or equipment that are donated to a community partner excluding employee volunteering (which is counted separately in the Civic 50). Examples of in-kind contributions include donation of used computers, meeting rooms or commercial product.

Impact Investments: Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

Internal Volunteerism: Participation in company citizenship or social issue engagement (i.e. employee resource groups, company sponsored issue education, training, awareness building). Examples include:

  • Green teams (employees charged with promoting more sustainable practices). PwC has these.
  • Employees formally trained as ambassadors on certain causes. Caesars employees can volunteer to counter sex trafficking by becoming Sex Trafficking Ambassadors.
  • Employees formally trained to do acts in social causes as part of their job. FedEx drivers in Florida can sign up for Nature Conservancy training that teaches them to become Python Patrollers who try to save the Everglades from invasive species of snakes. As they drive through the Everglades, trained employees identify Burmese Pythons and help the authorities remove them (it's an invasive species). Similarly, HP offers sales-team members the opportunity to become Eco Advocates who, as part of their sales conversations, help companies that are prospects or customers adopt more sustainable practices.
  • Departments doing work in a way that supports a social cause. The Aetna HR team that recruits on college campuses, for example, sometimes sets up a blood donation booth instead of an information booth about working at the company. They find that seeing Aetna employees in action at a blood drive does more to show what Aetna is about than slick posters and brochures.

Matching-Gift Grants: A program in which the company contributes a grant to a community partner (see definition of community partner) where an employee makes a monetary contribution, often by matching the employee’s contribution dollar-for- dollar.

Output Measures: Measures of a Community Engagement Program’s activities, services, events, or products that illustrate the nature of the investment, but fall short of capturing outcomes/impacts because they don’t show the resulting change in a social issue (e.g., increased academic performance) or business outcome (e.g., increased employee retention). Examples of outputs include hours of volunteer services provided, number of individuals served, and number of tutoring sessions held.

Outcome Measures: Indicators that capture the change in the wellbeing of individuals, groups, organizations, or communities as a result of a Community Engagement Program.  Examples of social outcome measures include graduation rate for students in a tutoring program, increase income among participants in a jobs training program, and improved savings rates among individuals in a financial literacy course. Examples of business performance outcome measures include improved retention of employee volunteers as tracked by HR, increased sales resulting from a cause marketing campaign, and improved customer loyalty among individuals who are have seen ads featuring the community engagement program. 

Philanthropy: The act of a corporation making a grant or financial donation in support of a social cause/issue.

Pro Bono or Skills-Based Volunteering / Service: Employee volunteering (see definition) that uses employee professional skills in service to a community partner (see definition). This can include, but is not limited to, the donation of services such as accounting, marketing, finance, graphic design, and information technology.

Public Good: The well-being of society as a whole. Public good efforts include reducing crime, increasing employment and cleaning up the environment, for example.

Social Causes/Issues: Challenges, difficulties and other problems faced by a society, often referred to as charitable causes. Examples include but are not limited to: homelessness, unemployment and access to education.

Social Outcomes/Impacts: Changes in the wellbeing of individuals, groups, organizations, or communities as a result of a Community Engagement Program.  Examples include improved graduation rates, reduced health problems, or increased employment. Although the precise definitions of the evaluation terms “impact” and “outcome” differ slightly, for the purposes of The Civic 50 they are interchangeable.

Traditional volunteering (also known as extra-hands or hand-on volunteering): Employee volunteering (see definition) that does not involve applying the employee’s workplace skills.