Helping Public-Private Partnerships Reach Their Full Potential

Eileen Howard Boone, CVS Health’s Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy and President, CVS Health Foundation, explains how the company builds partnerships to align with its purpose of helping people on their path to better health.

Companies partner with nonprofit organizations every day, but how closely are they measuring the outcomes of these partnerships? Are companies holding their partners accountable and setting goals that will help define success? Are these partnerships bringing value and really making a difference? The impact of partnerships can be measured in a number of ways.

Measurement is essential to the relationships we establish in the community and has helped us create long-lasting partnerships that have tackled some of the most pressing health care issues facing our society today, including access to affordable care, cancer research and tobacco control. And while it can be challenging to figure out how to quantify and qualify results, the assessments should include both the connection to the business purpose and the social impact generated.

As the president of the CVS Health Foundation, I’ve worked very closely with our nonprofit partners to ensure that we set goals together so that it’s not just about the community investment but rather a collaboration that is structured in a thoughtful way to ensure optimal outcomes. Ultimately, we want to build each partnership to align with CVS Health’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health and address a specific need in the communities we serve.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about the best ways to examine and measure the ROI in your partnerships.

Ensure that your investment in community partnerships aligns with the mission of your business.

When this happens, the social investments you make can extend your mission and key imperatives, while also helping local communities. At CVS Health, the health of our business and the health of the communities we serve are inherently connected. We always ask – what else can we do to help our partners by leveraging the size and scale of our business?

Define success by setting actionable goals and tracking outcomes.

Think carefully about what success of your partnerships will look like. Setting actionable goals that challenge the partnership to reach its full potential is critical to helping to create positive outcomes. Once you’ve established those terms, setting benchmarks and then tracking initiatives are key pieces to the measurement puzzle. At CVS Health, we work closely with our nonprofit partners to track the performance of the initiatives we support throughout the program. For example, in 2015, one of our grantees – Community Care Clinic of Rowan County in Salisbury, North Carolina - had 86 percent of participants in their smoking cessation program completely quit smoking, far exceeding the original goal of 15 percent. Tracking results and outcomes is crucial and it can also identify areas for improvement.

Create opportunities for colleague engagement.

The best partnerships extend beyond the external awareness we can help to raise and include engagement opportunities for our colleagues – who are also living our purpose. Setting a benchmark around engaging employees through a company’s philanthropic programs and initiatives should be an important part of goal-setting. If a company can generate greater colleague engagement and overall enthusiasm for a partnership, then a deeper connection is made allowing for long-term benefits that go beyond the initial partnership.

At CVS Health, our colleagues advance our purpose and bring our values of caring and collaboration to life each and every day. We are proud that last year, they donated more than $1.5 million in value of volunteer hours and nearly $1 million in financial support to the causes they care about most.

Measuring results not only helps quantify impact but it can identify areas within a partnership that could need improvement. It can also help guide future decision making as it relates to strategic investments. By measuring outcomes, companies and their nonprofit partners set expectations together so that collaboratively, they can reach their goals and their full potential.

To learn more about CVS Health’s efforts to increase access to health care and improve outcomes through corporate giving, visit our Corporate Social Responsibility information center