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Expertly-Designed Social Impact Strategy Templates

Social Impact Strategy

Elevate your social impact strategy with Sopact's expert templates and innovative app for creating a logic model, data strategy, and dashboards.

Social Impact Strategy

A social impact strategy allows the organization to define long-term success. Social impact strategies consist of three components:
 
An effective strategy must be centered around learning goals, but it will align the following three for the best outcomes.
 
1) the theory of change or logic model,
2) data strategy, and
3) impact analytics and learning.
 
Social impact strategy relies on building a practical strategic goal. Your strategic goal must align with the problem statement you are solving. For example, if you focus on quality education, let's say you focus on this strategic goal. 
 
Strategic goal:
Improve access to quality early childhood care and education.
 
Problem statement:
There needs to be more access to quality early childhood care and education. Lack of quality child care impacts children's development and future success.
 
You can start to design your strategy based on one of two approaches. 1) Logic model, 2) Theory of change. While you will find fans of either approach, there is no right or wrong approach. Often we can start with the logic model. Then, as your strategy progresses, you can "stress test"' your strategy based on the theory of change.
 
Sopact's impact strategy allows you to design step by step process. However, Sopact's impact strategy goes well beyond the process model. The strategy's success depends on metrics, data points, data sources, and stakeholder surveys. Successful organizations use a lean and continuous approach to collecting valuable data.
Free

Impact strategy training

The theory of change is the foundation for understanding the social impact of programs, products, or services. 

  1. Introduction to impact strategy  [7 min]
  2. Impact, Data, Analytics [60 min] ** Highly Recommended **

Impact Strategy Challenges

Many social purpose organizations face the following challenges.

  • Not able to clearly articulate the problem they are solving for their customer/stakeholder
  • Struggle to articulate outcomes
  • Not able to come up with the appropriate leading and lagging indicators to track outcomes
  • Struggle to come up with questions that need to be asked of the stakeholder to track outcome and output metrics
  • Struggle to differentiate between outcomes/impact
  • Struggle with creating small and nimble ToC

Impact Strategy: Step by step

Build a strategy that is integral to continuous operational and impact excellence

Design impact strategy

Strategy plays a crucial role in data collection and analytics, which can be costly and time-consuming. While the process of developing a strategy may seem daunting, there are many organizations that have gone through the same process and can provide valuable guidance. Sopact has worked with hundreds of social purpose organizations and has developed a robust strategy that builds on commonly available knowledge. The Sopact strategy provides this knowledge and helps organizations implement their strategy, collect data, and perform analysis and dashboard reporting as integral activities.

It's important to remember that strategy is a continuous process. You will likely need to iterate and adjust your strategy based on important impact experiments. The Sopact Strategy document includes at least one or more impact experiments aligned to different activities in the strategy. Still, these activities may need to be personalized based on stakeholder feedback and continuously optimized.

 

 

Launch Impact Strategy

If you are interested in developing a social impact strategy, the first and most crucial step is to sign up for Sopact's Impact Strategy App. This app is unique in that it allows you to design your strategy without spending thousands of dollars on consulting fees and, most importantly, lets you OWN data from the start.

Launch Strategy App

Collaborate for collective impact

Strategy is a collaborative platform that enables you to work with internal and external stakeholders to achieve collective impact. You can use it to share your work with the Sopact team for review and certification, and when you are ready, you can also share it with your funders. This app is designed to help you collaborate effectively and efficiently to make a meaningful impact.

To begin, choose the team you wish to work with. One notable feature of this platform is the ongoing guidance for designing your process. If you encounter any challenges, the community can answer any questions.

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Customizing the Sopact Strategy Library for Your Goals

Sopact's strategy library contains hundreds of strategies categorized by sector and impact themes. To begin, start by reviewing the problem statement for the impact category that aligns with your strategy. This will allow you to find a strategy that is similar to your own, which will save you time and effort in aligning your strategy with others. Once you have found a strategy closely aligned with your own, you can use it as a template or example, but you will need to personalize it to fit your specific context to make it effective.

Strategy fundamentals

Strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve specific goals or objectives. You can take several different approaches when creating a strategy, such as a lean approach (Impact Experiments), a KPI-based approach, or a program-based design like a Logframe or a Logic Model (Input first)/ Theory of change (Impact first) -- BTW both are useful!

It is important to start with a clear and concise problem statement that defines your activities to achieve your goals. Each strategy should include specific activities, outputs, and outcomes, which must be aligned with e SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) metrics. Tracking metrics over time can also help you understand progress toward your goals.

To be data-driven, you should also define the data sources you will use to track your metrics, create a prototype of the data table if necessary, and develop calculations to derive your metrics. For example, activity and output metrics may be sufficient if you focus on operational tracking. Still, for a deeper understanding of needs and long-term outcomes, it is also helpful to conduct stakeholder surveys and collect feedback using various methods (in-person, phone, email, WhatsApp, etc.). Be sure to personalize and tailor any surveys you use to fit your specific needs, and consider incorporating the five dimensions of impact from the Impact Management Project if relevant.

Documenting your data sources, "data tables" (fields), calculations, and surveys will also assist with data and dashboard design.

 

 

Certify Impact Strategy

Many organizations believe they have a theory of change or logic model. Still, upon closer examination, their internal strategy may need to be fully aligned with these models. Often their current strategy is disconnected from day-to-day operations, data collection, and reporting. While strategies may be high-level impact maps, they often need to be connected to a data strategy to ensure that data collection aligns with the organization's overall goals. If a theory of change or logic model is not integrated into daily operations, data collection, and reporting, the organization may become more focused on grant reporting than impact learning, which can hinder long-term growth and prevent the organization from reaching its full impact potential.

The Sopact strategy app is a collaborative platform that allows organizations to connect with their community, ask questions, and receive real-time feedback. Certification through the Sopact process can provide valuable feedback to improve and refine your strategy, and it is recommended to complete this process before moving on to data collection. The Sopact team can then assist with collecting data and using an advanced business intelligence platform to gain insights from the data, helping to ensure that your strategy is complete and ready for data collection.

Certification can provide several benefits, including:

  • Confidence in investing in data collection, data management, and data analytics
  • Transitioning from reporting or justification to continuous learning and improvement
  • Increased chances of obtaining grants through an impact evidence-based approach
  • Verification before applying for significant funding

Optimize Impact Strategy

While certification gives proof of stamp that tells that you are on the right track and that if you continue, you can achieve better results, this is a step before you begin data collection, analytics, and learning.   Sopact can do impact verification of all your results once data collection and analytics are completed based on rigorous verification steps.

Impact Strategy Terms

  • Social impact: This term refers to an organization's actions' positive or negative effects on society. Organizations may develop strategies to address specific social issues, such as poverty, education, or health care.

  • Environmental impact: This refers to an organization's actions on the environment. Organizations may develop strategies to reduce their ecological footprint and promote sustainability.

  • Economic impact: This refers to an organization's actions on the economy. Organizations may develop strategies to promote economic growth, create jobs, or stimulate local economies.

  • Strategic planning: This refers to the process of developing a long-term plan for an organization. A well-developed strategic plan can help an organization achieve its goals and make a greater impact.

  • Theory of change: This refers to a logical model that outlines the steps an organization takes to achieve its goals and make a positive impact. A theory of change can help an organization understand the causal relationships between its actions and the outcomes it aims to achieve.

  • Social return on investment (SROI): This refers to measuring an organization's actions' social, environmental, and economic impact. By calculating the SROI, organizations can understand the value of their impact and make more informed decisions about allocating resources.

  • Impact assessment: This refers to the process of evaluating the impact an organization's actions have on society, the environment, or the economy. Impact assessments can help organizations understand the full range of their impact and make necessary adjustments to their strategies.

Impact Strategy Resources

Here are few resources while you are building your impact strategy.

  • GIIN has been working on IRIS+ and Navigating Impact.  This is a significant Impact Knowledge collaboration with over 100+ impact strategies globally.  The new release of Impact Cloud will include all the Navigating Impact Impact Themes.

  • 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: While Social Value International (SVI) has been a pioneer member network organization.  In recent times, SVI is increasingly focusing on Impact Measurement & Management (IMM). Impact Cloud is a certified Social Return On Investment (SROI) application. SoPact is aiming to further align with SVI on the future IMM certification process. SoPact is one of the few partners of SVI and organization member both.

  • EVPA:  EVPA builds a community of organizations interested in or practicing venture philanthropy (VP) and social investment (SI) across Europe. EVPA has recently published the 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 that operates to create positive social and environmental impact. TONIIC T100 Project is a multi-year study of over 75 Toniic 100% Impact Network members' portfolios. It reveals new insights about the various paths towards and feasibility of 100% impact investing (impact first approach). Impact Cloud integrates mapping of TONIIC portfolio definition and SDG-IRIS Impact Map.

 
 

Aligning with investments

 An early-stage social startup does not have historical data nor has a good budget to measure outcomes. Additionally, neither investors nor entrepreneurs feel a strong necessity to fund social impact outcome measurement. You do have questions such as,
  • How effective is my investment?
  • What outcomes does it generate?
  • Which impact framework will generate the best results?
  • What are the core characteristics to drive impact?
A well-funded RCT can provide better evidence, but it cost time, and the quality of the outcome tends to be questionable.  In the absence of robust evidence-based results, how can you demonstrate anticipated positive or negative outcomes?  

The following guide provides the best way to build a robust case without a formal, longitudinal study and save tremendous research money!

GIIN is working to build a robust impact mapping that can provide a robust impact strategy.

Evidence Repository:

 

Conclusion

Impact strategies are essential for organizations looking to make a positive difference. An effective impact strategy should be aligned with a clear problem statement and defined activities, outputs, and outcomes and should be supported by data and metrics that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). To ensure that an impact strategy is fully developed and ready for data collection, it may be helpful to go through a certification process such as the one offered by Sopact. This process can provide valuable feedback and support in refining and connecting the strategy to a data strategy.

Several resources are available to organizations seeking to develop or improve their impact strategies. The Sopact strategy app is a collaborative platform that allows organizations to connect with their community, ask questions, and receive real-time feedback. Additionally, the Impact Management Project provides guidance on the five dimensions of impact that organizations should consider when developing their strategies. Finally, consulting with experts in the field or seeking out training and education opportunities can provide valuable insights and support in creating an effective impact strategy.

In conclusion, developing a strong impact strategy is essential for organizations looking to make a positive difference in the world. Organizations can work towards their goals and make a meaningful impact by aligning the strategy with a clear problem statement, defining activities, outputs, and outcomes, and using data and metrics to track progress. Seeking out resources and guidance, such as the Sopact certification process or the Impact Management Project, can help organizations create and refine their strategies to ensure they are practical and successful.