Simply to say – social impact is the positive change that your organisation has created. This change could be social, economic and/or environmental. As a social enterprise, creating social impact is at the heart of what you do and you must be able to identify, understand the full value of your activities. Impact is also central point to your organisation’s strategy as it helps you to know whether you are meeting your mission and vision in the long-term. Understanding, measuring and communicating impact is extremely important to win new contracts and secure existing funders and customers. This information can be used for a number of very beneficial purposes, the principle of which are:
-Helping you better understand, and target, your social work. Social impact assessment helps organisations to plan better, implement more effectively, and successfully bring initiatives to scale.
-Attracting investors and retaining investor confidence. If social investment is to become as important as financial return, the measurement of social impact must be comparably easy to understand and communicate.
-Tendering for public sector contracts or selling goods and services. Social enterprises must be able to advertise their business in a way that is quickly and easily intelligible to public service commissioners and consumers alike.
There are many different ways to think about your impact, but, the starting point should be asking yourself:
-What are the long term social changes for people, the environment or the economy that our organisation creates or contributes to?
-What impacts, if we were not achieving them, would stop us from meeting our mission?
-Are there any other things we need to know about – such as unexpected impacts of our activities (either positive or negative)?
-Who do we need to tell and in what form community do need to know (e.g. report, funding framework, video, flyer, talking…?)
Tools for measuring social impact
These are some of the tools that can be used to do that:
–Social Accounting and Audit. It has been defined as the ‘systematic analysis of the effects of an organization, communities of interest or stakeholders, with stakeholder input as part of the data that are analyzed for the accounting statement’.
– Logic approach. The advantage is that it provide a framework that enables organizations to place evaluation and performance assessment into life cycle process of the program.
– Social Return on Investment (SROI) is a method for measuring and communicating a broad concept of value that incorporates social, environmental and economic impacts. It is a way of accounting the value created by our activities and the contributions that made that activity possible. SROI can encompass all types of outcomes – social, economic and environmental – but it is based on involving stakeholders in determining which outcomes are relevant.