Posted by: bevmeldrum | April 29, 2009

Social Impact – Our Approach

simAt The Tool Factory, the social enterprise that I run, there is a lot of discussion about this topic of Social Impact Measurement.

When we talk to organisations about Social Impact Measurement the most common response is that it just feels like there is now this extra thing they need to do in relation to their monitoring but without having access to the necessary resources to implement it.

The purpose of this free e-book is help you make sense of what social impact measurement is, how it could work in your organisation and how you implement it without having to spend 10K or more on a consultant.

We take the view that every social enterprise and voluntary organisation from the smallest
to the largest can be measuring their social impact. Long gone are the days when just saying that we were doing a ‘good thing’ would secure any funding. Today, quite rightly, funders and investors want to know that the investment they make is going to be making a real difference.

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few years about measuring the social
impact that social enterprises and other Third Sector organisations are making.

Funders, government, investors and corporate bodies are interested in making sure their investments have the greatest impact possible and are looking for ways measure this.

But this is not the only reason why it is good to measure our social impact. The real benefits from this process are those that are created for the organisation itself – not the funders that support it.

If we, in the sector, found a way to tell the whole story of the impact we are having – not just a series of  numbers about how many people walked through our doors – we would have an incredibly powerful tool that would:

-enable us to improve our credibility and encourage people to believe what we say
-inspire and motivate our staff and volunteers
-encourage us to continuously improve our services
-communicate to other stakeholders how great we are
-form the basis of effective and powerful publicity materials, funding applications and press releases.

This is the real power of measuring our social impact – enabling us to market our organisations, inspire our staff and volunteers and attract more funding and investment.

At The Tool Factory we work with organisations of all sizes from the smallest community groups, to the largest of national organisations, from pre-start ups to well-established charities who have a decades of stories to tell.

We believe that each one of these organisations can be measuring their social impact – however small or new they are.

Different sizes and types of organisations will require different tools. However, if we take the approach that as an organisation grows and develops it can build additional complexity into the social impact measurement system that it is using to meet its new needs as a larger, more developed organisation.

For example, a small local social enterprise may find the SROI (Social Return on Investment) tool is not appropriate at the current time. But if they introduce a Social Accounting model now, then when they grow and become more sophisticated as an organisation they can build on the model they are already using and introduce the additional concepts of the SROI approach.

For small organisations we often suggest that they start by measuring just one indicator – maybe related to one activity they are running; just to get them started. Once the organisation is used to this they can then add more indicators and grow their social impact measurement model.

In fact, if we can encourage all new organisations to build social impact measurement into their organisations right from the very start we will, over time, have a sector in which social impact measurement and reporting is the norm.

Let’s just get every organisation started on doing some level of social impact measurement – we can build on it from there.

We’ve just launched a free e-book An Introduction to Social Impact Measurement: A Practical Approach to help answer some of these questions and to encourage more organisations to start measuring their own social impact. As part of the download process we are giving people the opportunity to help us measure our social impact.

Free copies are available from here.

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Responses

  1. […] has also written a post on her blog – For More Than Profit – on Our Approach to Social Impact Measurement and how we believe that any organisation, whatever their size, can and should be measuring their […]

  2. OK, so I’m confused. When would we use this rather than workercode.coop?

    By the way, links with text “click here” are very bad style. See http://www.w3.org/QA/Tips/noClickHere

    • You would use the Worker Co-ops code in conjunction with this approach – or any other. The Worker Co-ops code goes through the Principles.

      This practical approach shows you a way that you might like to use to measure some of them – particularly those that are about social impact, or the change a co-op is bringing to the lives of the people they work with.

      It a tool to be used alongside of the others.

      Thanks for the heads up on syntax … it’s always good to be improving how we do things.

      Bev


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