Want to measure social impact? Here are the basic concepts you need to know.
Did you know that one simple survey with just a few ‘rightly framed questions can help you measure the impact of your project?
Impact measurement seems scary & overwhelming. It is true that there are a lot of theoretical concepts & methods of impact measurement. However, if you are just starting, you don’t need to do a very complex impact measurement.
A basic understanding of what impact & outcome mean and a simple tool to collect the data from your stakeholders is more than enough if you are just starting with impact measurement.
So let’s start by talking about these three basic concepts that will help you to measure social impact
The Impact is a systemic and long-term change that happened to your stakeholders because of your interventions. Since creating an impact takes years, it is hard to measure them. But, we can measure the outcomes within our reach that lead to the impact that we expected.
An outcome is defined as a change that people you want to affect experience because of your intervention. This result could be intended or not, and it can be in a lot of different forms, such as behavioral change as a result of changing actions, awareness from learning, and/or a change in environmental conditions.
What data will show you the degree of achieving an outcome/goal? To determine your data points, you can ask yourself the question “what are the necessary data needed to show that the outcome has been achieved?”. Your answer to this question would then need to be specified into 1) type of data and 2) unit of measure for each data point.
Tip: It is perfectly acceptable to measure just the outcome of your projects because it might take you years or decades to start seeing the real impact.
Now let’s talk about 5 simple steps to measure social impact/outcome
- Define what is the main goal or the outcome that you want to achieve with your project. Ask yourself why you started this project and you will find it easier to define your outcome.
- Decide who all, from stakeholders to other parties involved, would be part of the measurement exercise.
- For outcomes that you’d want to measure, define a robust set of indicators & data points. This step will help establish the extent to which the outcomes have occurred.
- For each data point, formulate ONE question which will help you get the required data
- Collect data required for impact measurement. Define the target group/s from where you will source the relevant data and sample size. Decide on tools that you’d like to use for data collection – survey tools, data collection, etc.
There are a plethora of tools available that can help you easily measure impact. Artemis Impact Platform is one such, which makes impact measurement easy, especially for beginners. Check more information here:
The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) aptly describes the exercise of impact measurement as a process that is much “more than counting metrics”.
“It means considering information about risks, returns, and impact to learn, adjust, and improve investment decision-making. This includes embedding feedback loops through the lifecycle of an investment, incorporating feedback from affected stakeholders, and disclosing impact performance data in a clear, consistent, and comparable way,” it states in its blog on ‘Getting started with impact measurement and management.’
Starting with these simple steps will help you ease into impact measurement, once you feel comfortable with this and if your projects require a more thorough analysis, then you can slowly start learning more about the other advanced methods.
Ready to take the next steps? Learn about The Theory of Change and how you can use it in impact measurement.