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How to get Social Impact Outcome Metrics

Metrics

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Rachel leads the Actionable Impact Management (AIM) framework development from SoPact's side and oversees partnerships.

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Posted on 2017-08-29

 

An outcome metrics or Impact Metrics is a result. The measurement of outcomes illustrates the kind of impact that programs have on communities served. While solely measuring activities and outputs (indicators of change) is significantly more straightforward, these types of measurements have no insights into the results of social impact efforts. Such measurements may also inadvertently sway how an organization delivers impact programming. For instance, if an organization is being measured for how many students are served rather than how many went on to find a career post-graduation (the mission of the organization), that organization may begin expanding class sizes to serve more students, potentially diluting each student’s experience.

Selecting Outcome-Oriented Metrics:


The way to select outcome-oriented metrics reflective of the impact hypothesis, is to preclude selection with the establishment of a Theory of Change (ToC). Once there is a clear understanding of all outcomes, outputs, activities, and inputs, a few things are revealed:

  • A list of outcomes to be transformed into metrics
  • A list of outputs to be considered for transforming into metrics
  • An ironed out visual of each program that highlights any existing gaps in program delivery and evaluation

Before we move any further, a note about Theory of Change (ToC). It is the empirical basis of the organization's impact hypothesis. While there is a depth of resources covering ToC, there is no standard template for mapping it out.

Map Social Impact Outcome Metrics

 

Mapping Impact Outcome Metrics:

Above is the Theory of Change template found in the Actionable Impact Management (AIM) methodology for impact measurement. It is designed to deliver a clear understanding of the revelations outlined before (let’s recap):

  • A list of outcomes to be transformed into metrics
  • A list of outputs to be considered for transforming into metrics
  • An ironed out visual of each program that highlights any existing gaps in program delivery and evaluation

A ToC starts with an outcome (long-term goal) and then maps backwards listing the outputs (indicators) that this outcome is coming to pass, then listing the activities necessary for those outputs to happen, and finally documenting the inputs (resources) needed for each of those activities. If the organization struggles to outline the best outcomes, check out this article.

Defining Social Impact Outcome Metrics in a Grid

In this way, each outcome documented becomes a social impact metrics set. Its outcome and some of its outputs are transformed into metrics that measure for impact results.

Get Social Impact Outcome Metrics to Meaningful Level

This is one way to structure an organization's metrics selection process in a way that ensures a list of strategic outcome metrics linked to the organization's impact hypothesis. Once those metrics are outlined, they are ready to be built out to ensure that each one is well understood (See AIM Volume Two).

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