Social impact measurement is complicated. Sometimes it feels like a tangled mess of data, indicators, spreadsheets, and numbers that nobody believes. It doesn’t need to be that way. Not if we build up our impact framework to be a sturdy foundation for our measurement strategy to rest on.
Look at it this way, if you signed up to run a marathon after years of not exercising, would you spend day one of training running the full distance of the race? Probably not. It would we healthier and more effective to gradually work your way up to that distance. You would first build up your core, slowly develop your endurance, and keep at it until you're in solid shape for the day of the race.
Measuring social impact is sort of like that, except instead of our core, it's our impact framework that we need to strengthen.
Getting Started with Impact Management
So, how do we strengthen our impact framework? First, let's better understand what the framework includes. It's a clearly defined impact hypothesis and your method for measuring impact. It covers your Vision, Mission, Goals, Theory of Change, metrics for measuring what matters to your mission, and a few more details here and there.
It's not feasible to will an impact framework into being - we must start small and build up our foundation before we can measure enduring and meaningful metrics. Together with research fellows at the Melbourne Business School, SoPact created Actionable Impact Management (AIM) to outline a path toward a well-defined impact framework. The AIM guidebook series are essentially training manuals to help get organizations get up and running with their measurement strategies. The AIM guidebook series covers:
- Volume One: Groundwork helps to establish a solid foundation for an organization's impact framework
- VISION, MISSION, & GOALS
- PROGRAM STRUCTURE
- THEORY OF CHANGE
- MANAGING CHANGE
- Volume Two: Metrics guides the selection process for outcome-driven metrics supported by your impact hypothesis
- MEASURE WHAT MATTERS
- STANDARD METRICS ALIGNMENT
- METRICS DATA PIPELINE + TOOLS
- Volume Three: Data will help to structure the logistical considerations of data collection, aggregation, and analysis
- DATA CAPACITY
- DATA TOOLS
- DATA STRATEGY
- Volume Four: Communication will walk organizations through the process of creating impact reports and other mediums for demonstrating impact
- STORYTELLING APPROACH
- QUALITY PRINCIPLES
- WHAT TO INCLUDE IN AN IMPACT REPORT
- REACHING THE AUDIENCE
Once we have a way forward to measure social impact, it makes the process much more attainable. We look forward to hearing your feedback form Volumes One and Two, and will keep you posted for the upcoming release of Volume Three and Four.