Recently, measuring and reporting social impact has become an increasingly important area for the non-profit organisations All enterprises that are addressing social problems need to see at what extend they succeed their goals and at the same time to report the impact at the funders and stakeholders that support them. Yet measuring social impact can present significant challenges because measuring complex elements such as individual well-being or to what extent a change can be attributed back to the activities of not-for-profit organisations is not always an easy task. A reliable and valid measurement requires a high quality and robust approach and it can be difficult for organisations to know how to do it or where to start. Also, the terminology in relation to measuring social impact can be used differently across the not-for-profit sector and hard to understand. The aim of this training session is to provide guidance and resources for non-profit sector about measuring social impact of their activities and projects.
Social impact relates to the long-term positive changes for individuals, communities, and society as a whole, that result from activities or services provided to them. When we use the term “measuring social impact”, we are referring to the measurement of both: the long term social change and how this change was obtained; from details about the social problem non-profit sector are addressing, to details about the activities they run and the short-medium term results of these activities. In general, we can measure:
There are many reasons to measure social impact. First of all, since most non-profit enterprises are not self-funded they have to report to their funders and inform them how did they use their money. To report on time with quality reports shows accountability which can be the reason for a long term cooperation with funders and network of supporters. Also by showing strong impact and positive results achieved as a result of the work of the social enterprise, you can attract new funders. In case an activity or project didn’t reach the expected results the findings from impact measurement can used to improve activities, leading to better results for participants and society. Non-profit organizations need also powerful marketing and communication, so the outcomes of measurement can be transformed into stories and messages to promote the organisation to the wider public. In non-profit sector collaboration between organizations is really important, so the findings from impact measurement can be shared with them as best practice dissemination activities
To report on time with quality reports shows accountability which can be the reason for a long term cooperation with funders .and networks that supports them.
According to inFocus Enterprises Ltd, June 2016, there are 7 Steps to Effective Impact Measurement.
Step 1: Think about your overall approach to measuring social impact by developing a vision, deciding how to measure social impact (whether to use monitoring, evaluation and/or research) and who to involve.
Step 2: Decide the indices to be measures by juxtaposing them with your initial goals.
Step 3: Select/develop indicators that will identify the changes and their extent as a result of your actions.
Step 4: Plan your data collection by selecting the right method, taking a quality approach to sampling and finalising your indicator framework.
Step 5: Develop data collection tools (we focus on questionnaires in this guide) to collect high quality data.
Step 6: Collect and manage your data through effectively deploying data collection tools, ensuring the data you collect is of a high quality and secure, and selecting the right software for processing the results.
Step 7: Use the data you collect: effectively analyse and learn from your data to improve the delivery of your activities, your fundraising and your accountability to the stakeholders.
After measuring social impact, next step is to report. There are various ways to present social impact report or data. Rather than using simple A4 word document, pdf or printed brochure, consider some of the tools listed below:
Sharing with infographics on social media. This is a recent trend that became increasingly popular. Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge and can present information in a visual, quick and clear way. This is an eye catching means of data presentation that aims at readers who are not interested in reading long texts and detailed explanations.
Create a presentation for your social impact data. Another very visual way to present data is to use PowerPoint, Prezi or other software to create a few slides which can be as a presentation in pitches, at speaking events, on website or can be converted to a PDF and share as a document. Presentations are brief, short and to the point and communicate the message with more images than text.
Share your Impact Story via video. All social media platforms and channels in Youtube and Vimeo, has many followers and “Youtuber” are the “gurus” that set up the standards for their followers. More and more people are sharing video with their friends. Videos are popular probably because it is the easiest and quickest way to see a content on the go ( in the bus, train, or the subway) simply with wifi and headphones.
LIVE stories or streaming on Facebook or InstaTV. The easiest, quickest and therefore cheapest way to share Social Impact is by going live on FB or Instagram. And if an organization does not have many followers, yet live video is one of the best ways to engage with your existing audience and attract new followers .
Create an impact page on your website. Social enterprises communicate anything about their social impact on their website.
Measuring and Reporting Social Impact?
At the beginning, the trainer gives some clues about what is social impact and why we need to measure the social impact (see Information part). After this introduction he/she gives 7 cards to the participants with the following texts:
Then the participants should look what other people have and try to think all together which could be the first step of the 7 Steps to Effective Impact Measurement (see Information part). Once they will find the first one, youth worker should explain more about this step and starts a brief discussion on the topic. Later on, they move to finding the second step and continue by the next steps in the process till its end.
Discuss in group the following questions:
Q1. Social impact relates to the long-term positive changes of,
d. Individuals, communities, and society as a whole
Q2. What we can measure with social measurement?
a. Social problems in community/society
b. Activities to address social problems
c. Social change generated by activities
d. All above
Q3.Which of the below is not a reason to measure the social impact?
a. Find new funders
b. Earn more followers on social media
c. Learn and improve services
d. Be more competitive
Q4. What is import to do before step 2 “Decide where to focus”?
a. Work out your approach
b. Develop indicators
c. Plan your data collection
d. Develop data collection tools
Q5. Which is the best way to report social impact?
c. Live stories
d. All above
In summary, the social impact measurement should be based on a seven-stage process. The Social impact report should outline the outcomes achieved by the organization and the social changes triggered by its activities.