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5 Ways: How AI Helps in Actionable Impact Strategy and Management?

February, 26 2019

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Unmesh Sheth
Written By
Unmesh Sheth

Sustainable Development Goals now influence every organization.

  • 72% now mention the goals in their annual corporate or sustainability report

  • 50% of companies have identified priority SDGs

The GIIN’s most recent estimate is that in one year the minimum size of private equity in impact investing doubled to $228 billion. When you include public investment in ESG assets, it swells to nearly $9 trillion, (according to the latest figures from The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment)

Traditional investment portfolio managers are rushing to re-classify their investment towards impact investment. Traditional Philanthropy is looking at Venture philanthropy.  Age old development finances (such as CDFI) organizations are also looking to share impact investing pie. While the growth of this trend is still in early stage, there is a significant trend in Europe and North America to grow towards this as many foundations around the world are starting to tinker around improvement in their impact first strategy. As a chief impact officer how to take all these in and be true to the impact?

Read More: The role and importance of Social Impact Consulting


1. Use Impact Knowledge Foundational Pillars

Leaders in the impact investing and venture philanthropy such as GIIN, Impact Management Project, TONIIC, Social Value International (SVI)EVPA/AVPA Venture Philanthropy, SDG Compass, and UN SDG partners such as OECD are stepping up to develop the market with their impact strategy or impact knowledge initiatives. For example,
  • GIIN has been working on IRIS+ and Navigating Impact.  This is a significant Impact Knowledge collaboration with over 100+ impact strategist globally. 

  • Impact Management Project (IMP):  The IMP is a forum for building global consensus on how to measure, manage and report impact. Impact Cloud is perhaps the first impact measurement & management platform to support IMP.

  • Social Value International: Social Value International (SVI) has been a pioneer member-led organization sharing a common goal: to change the way society accounts for value. In recent times, SVI focuses on alignments such as Impact Measurement & Management (IMM), IMP, and SDGs along with SROI.

  • EVPA:  EVPA is building a community of organizations interested in or practicing venture philanthropy (VP) and social investment (SI) across Europe. EVPA has recently published Impact Strategy journey which very well aligns with SoPact’s Actionable Impact Strategy approach.

  • TONIIC T-100: TONIIC is the global action community of impact investors.  Their vision is a global financial ecosystem which operates to create positive social and environmental impact. TONIIC T100 Project is a multi-year study of the portfolios of over 75 Toniic 100% Impact Network members. It reveals new insights about the various paths towards and feasibility of 100% impact investing (impact first approach).

Read More: Understanding the critical relationship between TOC and Social Performance Measures


2. Overcome SDG, Frameworks, in Standards Philanthropy Maze

Margaret Rose and Shanil Singh from U-Solve recently wrote “PUBLIC PRIVATE PURPOSE PARTNERSHIPS for SDG Progress”.  In this paper, they describe three meta-areas contributing to ineffectiveness and lethargic progress on the Goals. The key challenges according to the paper are,

  • Quality of data: The lack of robust, quality data and rigorous SDG measurement and evaluation systems compromises the ability of investors, corporations and civil society working together with governments to achieve the targets.

  • State-Centric: The aforementioned hindrances of top-down bureaucracy also influences measurement because conceptually the indicators are state-centric, which stymies the ability of non-government actors and stakeholders to articulate and position their impact alongside the express targets and indicators.

  • Capability Challenge: Despite the promise of emergent Big Data initiatives like Global Pulse, and geospatial information sources, there is a lack of capability for robust data collection, analysis, and measurement for the SDGs, cross-rationalization of current data collection efforts and innovation to fill SDG-data-gaps to drive and coordinate macro, and micro SDG-action.

  • Attribution Challenge: The need to shift from merely measuring change to measuring attribution is critical for impact.

  • Contradictory goals: The inconsistency and inherent contradictions between the Goals and the need to integrate other tools.

Read More: The Ever Comprehensive Guide to Impact Management and Strategy


3. Excel is Not an Impact Management Toolexcel not suitable for Impact measurement and management

An overwhelming number of impact measurement practitioners start with MS-Excel, Google Docs and favorite survey management tools survey monkey for online (for connected beneficiaries) and mobile offline tools (for disconnected beneficiaries). 

The challenges are that a robust impact measurement must tie theory of change, data management and reporting altogether.  Lack of integrated approach requires an organization to use 5-6 different tools.  While excel based approach will work fine for a smaller organization, as soon as growth starts they start having data islands that merely do not allow to get feedback and learning about product or services offered to the beneficiaries.


4. Make Impact Knowledge Actionable!

As the market expands, many traditional business, philanthropy, and investments are trying to align their organizations towards growing social impact trends. As the market gets matured, impact washing or SDG washing do not work with sophisticated impact oriented investors. As they become educated about Impact Classification and investors become sophisticated about a need to learn more about the true impact to the community and individuals. 

Sopact Impact Cloud is designed to strengthen the knowledge foundation pillars. Impact Cloud is a certified Social Return On Investment (SROI) application. Impact Cloud is perhaps the first Impact Measurement & Management platform to support IMP and integrates mapping of TONIIC portfolio definition and SDG-IRIS Impact Map. New release of Impact Cloud will include all the Navigating Impact Impact Themes from GIIN. 


5. Use Structured Knowledge that Simplifies the Impact Strategy

The intelligent impact knowledge platform simplifies public domain impact strategy and knowledge into actionable form. You can use this structured knowledge to simplify,

  • Due diligence process scorecard-based approach

  • Flexible ways to assign core and program indicators specific to each grantee and investees

  • Collect results through a different approach

  • Impact insight such as portfolio, outcome, and investee/grantee data aggregation

  • Dashboard, Storyboard, Impact Scorecard, SDG Alignment, and Impact Report

  • Integrate impact data, outcome and story between Asset Owners, Asset Managers, and Assets.


Read More: Simplify Impact Management with Impact Knowledge Graph.

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