Social Impact Measurement - Where to start?
'What is your social impact?' A question most organisations operating in the field of sustainability or social change have encountered on more than one occasion. At the start of 2016 it is no longer just about limiting your organisations negative impacts, it has instead become precedent to put substantial efforts towards creating positive impact. In order to understand if your organisation is indeed creating positive impact, you need to measure it. But when it comes to social impact measurement, where do you start?
For organisations that are just starting out with shaping their social impact strategy, not getting lost or discouraged by the scale, complexity and costs of systems and services available can be daunting. How do you choose the right framework? What will you be measuring? Where and how will you collect data? - Recognize yourself in these questions? Then read on, as these blog aims to provide some guidance to help you set up a robust measuring strategy.
Why are you measuring?
What is the purpose of your impact measurement? Who will be viewing the results? If your main purpose is marketing or communication, your measurement will most likely require a different level of rigour, then when the measurement is conducted to assess the effectiveness of a certain policy decision. The board of your organization may need different information than your beneficiaries or other stakeholders. Answering the “why” question will help you determine which approach to take for your impact measurement.
What information do you need?
Secondly, when thinking about impact measurement you will need to determine what level of rigour your measurement needs to have. In other words: what information is good enough to provide you with the insights you need? It is likely that an NGO assessing whether a certain health-improvement programme should be brought to scale, needs a different level of rigour than a fund-to-fund impact investor wanting to gain high-level insight in the social performance of its portfolio.
What is your organization aiming to achieve?
Although this may sound like an obvious step, critically assessing the organisation’s impact goals is often overlooked. Drafting your organisation’s Theory of Change will help you identify these goals and shape your impact ambition and strategy, which will in turn point you in the direction of the impacts that you should be measuring.
You can shape your Theory of Change by answering the following questions:
What societal issue is your organisation aiming to address?
Why and for whom is this urgent?
How does your organization (aim to) solve this issue?
What are your organisation’s goals and targets in solving this issue?
Once you have determined your impact ambition, it’s time to translate it into measurable outcomes and impacts by selecting relevant indicators and metrics.
Need help drafting your impact strategy, or finding meaningful indicators? Give us a call or send us an email to see how we can help you translate impact ambitions into impact actions.
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Topics: Social impact, Impact ambition, Social impact measurement, Theory of Change, Social Impact Strategy