The most important element to an enduring selection of Social Impact Metrics is the foundational impact framework that supports it. We need a strong impact measurement framework before we know which metrics will serve our needs. You can learn all about how to establish your impact framework here: Actionable Impact Management (AIM) Volume One: Groundwork.
This article will give a quick overview to the most important pieces of getting to a place where we can select the best metrics for our organization. That will include:
- Vision, Mission, and Goals: Volume One: Groundwork
- Program Structure: Volume One: Groundwork
- Theory of Change: Volume One: Groundwork
- Measure What Matters: Volume Two: Metrics
Vision, Mission, and Goals
Think of your Vision as the cornerstone of your imapct framework. Whenever you get stuck (which you probably will) as you document your organization's program strucutre and theory of change, you can refer back to these three statements for guidance.
VISION: A short statement that paints a picture of the ideal world your organziation strives to bring about.
MISSION: A short description of how your organization is working toward that idealic world.
GOALS: A set of chronological milestones that your organization will reach as you continue your path toward that Vision.
Volume One: Groundwork describes it in more detail, but essentially it's a documented layout of how your programs are organized.
This will help us organize our metrics sets later. It depends on the complexity or nature of your programs, whether you sort your metrics by Outcome or Program.
Theory of Change
The Guidebook will have you go Outcome-by-Outcome (or Program-by-Program) to create a Theory of Change (ToC). Now, your ToC holds multiple purposes - one of which is to identify your outcomes and outputs...
Measuring social impact indicators
...Each of these outcomes and outputs can become a potential metric. We will jot these draft metrics down (keeping them sorted by Program/Outcome) and answer a few questions to see if it's a viable metric for us:
Now, you're set up with a solid (and organized) group of draft metrics sets. Your next steps will be to decide which drafts are worth measuring. For those, you will decide if they should align to a standard or if you will craft a custom final metric. Next, make sure that that metric is clear for those reporting on it - pair it with a sample answer and usage guidelines. All of this and more is detailed in the most recent volume of the Actionable Impact Management (AIM) series. For more details on metrics selection, go ahead and download the second volume here: Actionable Impact Management: Metrics.