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what do social impact consultants do
Unmesh Sheth 1/4/22 9:51 AM 6 min read

4 Reasons Your Social Enterprise Needs Social Impact Consulting

Impact management and measurement can be a daunting process for a social enterprise. Social impact consulting firms bring expertise and technology to streamline impact work. Many social purpose organizations like social enterprises, nonprofits, impact investors, asset managers, and corporations engage in social impact consulting firms and consultants. Social impact consulting firms provide impact measurement, management, and capacity building to scale programs and maximize social impact is the goal of social impact consulting. Here are 4 reasons your social enterprise needs impact consulting.

  • What is a social impact consulting?

  • Lean strategy

  • Better technology

  • Scalability

  • End-to-end efficiency

IMM is complicated for social enterprises with limited expertise and resources.

   KEY TAKEAWAYS  

  • Social impact consulting helps your social enterprise at a strategic level to optimize its impact by combining high-quality advisory and technology for continued growth.

 
 

What is a social impact consulting?

Social impact consulting helps social enterprises (SEs) and nonprofits measure their effect on the community and environment. Social impact consultants bring strategic and technical expertise in impact management and measurement (IMM).

IMM is complicated. There is no global consensus on what IMM means nor how to do it. However, there is an ever-increasing need to demonstrate impact to funders and stakeholders. For Social Enterprises, impact measurement and management are more challenging than simple financial returns. Tracking and managing social enterprise impact factors consume precious time and money resources. 

Social impact consultants can be useful at any stage of social enterprise development. SEs often seek consultants when their in-house expertise has difficulty identifying outcomes, collecting data, and reporting efficiently. Starting out with social impact consulting can save time and effort in the long run. 

Read More: Demonstrate Impact Through Effective Stakeholder Impact Analysis

 

What do social impact consultants do?

 

1. Lean strategy: Social impact theory of change

Social impact consulting helps your social enterprise at a strategic level. Often, SEs don’t know where to start with developing a Theory of Change, or, conversely, may dwell too much on it. Too many outcomes and metrics can be just as crippling as none. 

Social impact consultants help your social enterprise develop an executable and actionable strategy. This “lean” approach allows a social enterprise to experiment with impact on a small scale. Bit by bit, the social enterprise can move forward with a basic Theory of Change, focus on the most important outcome, take stock of existing data, and collect the additional data necessary to show progress. 

At a strategic level, reaching out to consultants will help align your impact measurement and management with frameworks such as the 5 dimensions of impact. Because organizations learn by doing, favoring a lean approach allows a social enterprise to get going with IMM. 

Read More: What Is Lean Data Management?

2. Better technology

Technology is a critical tool as your social enterprise grows. Social impact consulting connects you with the right technology to optimize your IMM and streamline your processes.

One-size-fits-all data management systems are created for enterprise corporations. Most social enterprises have to hire data teams to tailor these platforms and launch training regimens so staff can manipulate them towards impact outcomes. Traditional platforms like this carry an unexpected price tag. A social enterprise can easily run $20k - $800k to conduct data collection and impact evaluations without an impact-specific build. IMM is a continuous learning process, not a one-and-done ex-post evaluation. 

Social impact platforms, such as Sopact’s Impact Cloud®, strategically align your outcomes and indicators as a social enterprise. It is technology built and developed specifically for social enterprise work, reducing the cost and time required to measure impact. 

Impact-focused technology ensures that your teams are following the right practices from the start. The right platform establishes a systematic data pipeline, collecting data directly from stakeholders. This technology can track impact using visual dashboards and reporting, the analysis needed to automate the lean learning process. 

Hiring an external impact team brings this kind of technology onboard. It takes a costly and complex process and makes it simple.

Read More: The Impact Management Journey of Sustainable Social Enterprises

Read More: How Impact Measurement Can Benefit Social Enterprises? With An Example

Social impact consulting firm with Impact Management Tool

At Sopact, we look at each social enterprise based on the level of maturity and complexity of impact management and business analytics solution.  To further understand, Sopact has partnered with Miller Center Santa Clara University to build the impact management capacity of 300+ social enterprises.   We believe that social enterprises should dedicate enough budget from $1K-$100K/year depending on the level of maturity. For established social enterprises, this range can be even higher as impact data analytics, and business data analytics are core to their business model.

Read More: Accelerating Change for Social Enterprises: The Miller Center

social enterprise consulting

For a social enterprise in concept and pre-revenue, the best advice is often to start with the theory of change examples described on this page.  

We recommend building a comprehensive impact management strategy for post-revenue startups and early growth.  By engaging qualified social impact consultants, social enterprises can achieve faster product-market fit and be on a faster path to raising seed funding to Series A.  

Analytics is often at the core of their business model for established data. We recommend building unified impact management and business analytics.

Read More: How To Choose The Right Impact Indicators To Demonstrate Impact?

3. Scalability - Social Enterprise Growth

Your social enterprise must be able to scale before it grows. These are not the same thing. Growth is expanding your market reach and staying profitable. Scaling means having the systems and processes to prepare for a long-term trajectory.

Social impact consulting streamlines and automates your IMM process. By reducing resources spent on IMM, your social enterprise can focus on “big picture” strategy, learning, and development. 

Most importantly, with a continuous data pipeline, you will regularly communicate with your stakeholders. Insight into stakeholder needs is critical to understanding your SE’s role in creating social value for them and increasing revenue. Scaling your social enterprise means scaling a positive impact on society.

Read More: 8 Major Monitoring & Evaluation Challenges And How To Overcome Them!

Read More: How does the UN's sustainable development goals (SDG) affect the enterprise?

4. End-to-end efficiency - Social Impact Approach

Technology alone is not enough for effective IMM. A high-quality advising process from a social impact consulting team leverages the technology for social enterprises. Integrated advisory with the right technology platform optimizes IMM for better results.

Read More: Putting the “S” in ESG Social

The real opportunity is in end-to-end impact management efficiency. Social impact consulting can advise you through the entire process of IMM: 

How to measure the social impact of social enterprise?

  • Understanding the right outcomes
  • Identifying different data sources
  • Aggregating multiple data sources
  • Driving better data science for decision-making

At its core, IMM is a learning process for a social enterprise. Social impact consulting brings technology to optimize the social enterprise’s impact and continued growth.

Read More: 3 Tips For Measuring Social Impact Projects

Optimize your social enterprise impact

Social impact consulting provides the right expertise to help you optimize your IMM process. High-level advising in conjunction with technology platforms such as Sopact’s Impact Cloud® generates great results for social enterprises and their stakeholders. Learn more in our webinar with Efiko Academy about Using Tech for Impact Management

Learn More: How Miller Center and Sopact help scale social enterprises

 

 

Top Social Impact Consulting Firms

 

 

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Unmesh Sheth

32 years of track record In technology companies, innovation, leadership. Deep understanding of bottom-up and top-down data trust challenges in high impact philanthropy and impact investments.