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Demonstrating Impact in Collective Impact Models

Posted by Unmesh Sheth on Feb 1, 2019 10:31:13 AM

 

Social impact network organizations are a broad range of hub-and-spoke  type organizations. Some examples of social collective impact networks include:
  • Social Enterprise Alliance (social enterprise network organizations)
  • Social value networks (Examples: impact fund networks, micro-finance networks, statewide social enterprise network, social business network)
  • Incubators and accelerators (mostly focused on matured social businesses only)
  • Network organizations focusing on crowdfunding and crowd services models
  • Impact networks supporting multiple social enterprise growth
  • Mentor networks

During the last decade, many innovative network models have emerged. Such models offer unique growth opportunities, but an even more important value they can potentially bring to the table is transparency. The key word there is "potential" because many fall well short of such transparency.

The main driver of impact network organizations is demonstrating the impact of their programs. products or services.  However, these collective initiatives are often run by small or medium size nonprofits who do not have sufficient bandwidth to define a comprehensive theory of change,  or to properly collect data and report on it.

So, how might they create a collective impact framework to sufficiently demonstrate impact? 

Impact Measurement Framework

Social Businesses with multi-site and/or multi-program initiatives can track their operations, finances, and impact by measuring the impact of both programs and products.

These network organizations often have a mission to create a strong ecosystem that drives social change by doing some of the following:

  • Emboldening social businesses through access to resources so that the positive outcomes they seek are more effectively and efficiently realized (see the Social Ventures example).
  • Helping to deliver transparent results to global investors so that they can make more informed investing decisions.
  • Bringing together impact investors to share resources, knowledge, investing opportunities, and more (see Toniic).
  • Participating in and/or forming collective impact initiatives.

One of the biggest challenges for these network organizations is to demonstrate impact effectively.

Measuring Impact Across Networks

Let's say one social impact network includes 200+ social businesses and of those businesses, 25 focus on alternative energy, 45 focus on the healthcare, 40 on awareness-building, 45 on training services, and the remaining 45 on education.

One of the biggest challenges such a network organization would face is how to demonstrate the collective impact of all the organizations participating.

Such a challenge is compounded when a donor or other investor doesn't just want to report on the overall impact of a network, but also wants to see a deeper dive into a specific impact theme, such as "employment," or maybe into a particular city or community (e.g. the region where they grew up and still live).

Such stakeholders must be given accurate, specific reporting and, even better, access to a dynamic webpage in which they can quickly see output, outcome, and impact. The key is enabling them to be able to get a quick look at data and, even they want, to go even deeper. After all, they hold the capital that will catalyze even more of the impact the network seeks to generate.

Thus, to start a network organization must collect the outputs and outcomes which can define the collective outcome of a specific impact area for the network as a whole. For example, if the impact theme is "employment," one indicator could be "how many jobs created."

Even though such numbers may be apple and oranges (not all jobs are created equal), for an average investor taking a first look at an impact networks' numbers, this is a good starting point.

Even though such numbers may be apple and oranges (not all jobs are created equal), for an average investor taking a first look at an impact networks' numbers, this is a good starting point.

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 11.19.29 AM

Dashboard: MicroTracker

Collective Dashboard of more than 600 US microenterprise programs. Side-by-side comparisons of microenterprise programs across the country, or explore metrics for different segments of the industry. 

 

Purpose of a Collective Impact Dashboard 

While getting investors to see collective results is a good starting point, the ultimate goal is to invite them to find an organization that is close to their heart. This could be through a certain cause, region, or other specific outcome areas.

SoPact Impact Cloud empowers businesses, impact managers, impact investors, and more to manage impact data all in one place through a first-of-its-kind impact dashboard.

It provides a basic customizable design as per each network organization’s needs, and for a large high net worth individual or funders (e.g., foundations) it can prepare visualized data-driven stories relevant to funding objectives.

Part of the Cloud, the SoPact Impact Maker, can be especially useful to network organizations that have long-term relationships with their partner organizations because both at the network management level and the social business level, each user can input data, build impact frameworks, and access results.

This encourages ongoing, real-time feedback, fostering better relationships and helping to strengthen the ecosystem and its results in the process.

Collective Impact Collaboration 

SoPact leads a major collective impact program in the affordable housing sector. The initiative is based around HomeKeeper, a Salesforce-based popular application designed for affordable homeownership and housing counseling programs. 

HomeKeeper focuses on the day-to-day workflow of a housing program administrator, but also collects performance data that is forwarded to the HomeKeeper National Data Hub, which aggregates the data and generates social impact reports.

HomeKeeper is also a HUD approved Housing Counseling Management System (CMS), designed for homeownership advisors AND counselors.

For example, a Community Land Trust or Habitat for Humanity affiliate who are managing affordable housing programs would use HomeKeeper.

HomeKeeper-3

Homekeeper: Create Master Data Warehouse of all Salesforce Instances -  Integration using JitterBit

 

In partnership with HomeKeeper, Sopact developed an intelligent integration so that HomeKeeper administrators could regularly submit all grant specific reporting requirements.

While these reporting requirements are regulatory, the key challenges for these organizations is to see how they can demonstrate their impact conclusively.

Homekeeper homebuyer demographics

HomeKeeper: Reviewing the value of an individual and collective housing on the social economic impact

For these organizations demonstrating impact is perhaps the most critical. Their primary goal is to strengthen the mission of all participating network organizations. 

 

Learn More: Impact Framework

What are the other challenges you are facing?   Please share your challenges and ideas in deep impact network. 

Topics: impact framework, theory of change

Unmesh Sheth

Written by Unmesh Sheth

Unmesh is the founder of the SoPact. SoPact is a personal vision that grew from 30 years of experience in technology, management, and the social sector.