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Key Questions about Community Investment

Last week I had the privilege of speaking with James Temple, Manager of Corporate Donations at Direct Energy .It was the first in a series of conversations about corporate social responsibility that I’ll be having with CSR executives and managers, These dialogues will be shown on the Canadian Business Online site starting in June.
In re-reading the questions I had for James it struck me that these might be helpful to others as baseline program planning considerations. Direct Energy has done its homework and is able to answer these key questions. Many other corporations I speak with are still grappling with these fundamentals.
How did your company decide on its community investment strategy? To what degree does the program reflect the social and business priorities of employees and of external stakeholders?
In what ways do your company’s partnerships with non-profit organizations address business objectives? How did you come to partner with these particular non-profits?
How do you balance the need for consistency at a corporate level with the priorities of employees and stakeholders at a local level?
Community investments are largely qualitative and difficult to measure. How does your company benchmark and assess the performance of its community programs as needed to determine the ROI?