How do you calculate the effectiveness of corporate cultural activities? And what added value do they offer?

Associazione Civita asked the question and also came up with some answers, experimenting with reporting model for corporate cultural activities. So far, the tools commonly used for reporting for sustainability disclosures and measuring CSR have not provided an efficient reporting model for cultural initiatives.


The work of the research committee began in May 2015, taking its cue from a survey conducted by Civita in collaboration with UNICAB on a sample of medium and large companies, to analyse the types of cultural investments they make and whether they are reported in sustainability disclosures.

The survey found that sustainability and CSR reports are drawn up almost exclusively by large corporations (36{f94e4705dd4b92c5eea9efac2f517841c0e94ef186bd3a34efec40b3a1787622} of the survey respondents) and that the reporting tools currently available do not include specific indicators for culture investments, which fall into a more general classification of projects for the local community.

In Italy, given the country’s outstanding cultural heritage, corporate investment in culture could unquestionably be a significant dimension of a company’s CSR activities.

The indicators are directly inspired by the UN sustainable development goals, and specifically: Goal 4 : “Ensure Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promote Lifelong Learning Opportunities for All”; Goal 11: “Make Cities Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable” and Goal 17: “Revitalise the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development”.

In detail, the proposal from the scientific committee that drafted the document «From CSR to “Corporate Cultural Responsibility”: how to valorise corporate activities in culture» recommends an update of the traditional IRC reporting model to integrate cultural capital with human, intellectual, financial, infrastructure, environmental and social capital, embracing them all. Cultural sustainability capital applied to a company’s human resources, for example, qualifies their activities; applied to its infrastructure capital (a machine used with skill and diligence) it qualifies and improves its result.

Cultural capital, in other words, cuts across all the other capital categories.

The analysis indicators used to cross reference the “capital” data are as follows: Scenario: the internal and external context in which the cultural activity takes place. Input: resources of various kinds used by the company for cultural action. Output: direct result for the enterprise from its cultural action. Outcome: direct and indirect global result of the cultural action.

All this creates a matrix within which the impact of corporate cultural action on the territory can be assessed, at an experimental level for now. Here is a diagram, taken directly from the Associazione Civita study: «From CSR to “Corporate Cultural Responsibility”: how to valorise corporate activities in culture».

But over and beyond measurability and reporting, the importance of cultural action is clear for all to see. Investment in culture (and training) are primary tools for the development of a society.