Demonstrating Value Blog
I recently spoke with Michelle Strutzenberger, of Axiom News, about the state and future direction of impact measurement in anticipation of my participation in the panel 'Measuring and Demonstrating Impact' at the Social Enterprise World Forum taking place in Calgary October 2-4. It was a great opportunity to reflect about my experience in the last six years of working in this area, and to articulate where I see this work evolving. The story will be published as part enpCanada stories, the news service for Enterprising Non-profits Canada.
Here are my reflections to Michelle's questions:
1. What’s the commitment you hold that brings you to be involved...
"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know."
-Former US of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld
This infamous quote left some people befuddled, others impressed. While this quote emerged from the context of linking the government of Iraq with weapons of mass destruction, uncertainty (everything but the known knowns) pervades the world of evaluation, social impact assessment and performance measurement. Still, we acknowledge it in a fairly limited way, and dealing with it explicitly is...
I came across this nifty tool when I attended the 6th ANSER conference in Victoria, June 6, 2013. The Community Capital Tool is a decision support and assessment tool, based on the community capital framework, that is designed to facilitate and ground community discussion about integrated planning and monitoring.
At the conference, Gretchen Hernandez, Sean Markey, Alfredo Seoane and Alberto Mollinedo described the tool and its application in Bolivia.
The community capital framework stems from the work of Cornelia and Jan Flora who advanced that communities that were successful in supporting healthy sustainable community and economic development paid attention to seven types of capita - natural, cultural, human, social, political, financial and built – and how they interacted and built on one another....
Are you about to engage in strategic or business planning in your organization? Planning offers a great point to think about what has and hasn’t worked in the past, how you create value (for community, within your business and organization), how you can create even more value, and ways to measure your success moving forward. Demonstrating Value can complement planning activities in a number of ways.
The first way is to help you focus on the big picture, and to ensure that you bring in different perspectives into your planning. Demonstrating Value tools are build around a holistic picture captured in this lens:
While this lens was developed to think about measurement, it can useful for framing your planning conversations:
An Organizational Sustainability Perspective – Are you developing the processes, systems and...
If you're in the business of green building or promoting sustainable building and communities, check out our new guide that has recently been added to Demonstrating Value's Resource Library. In it you'll find guidance on approaches to monitoring and assessing the mission-related impacts of green building and community design, which may be relevant for social enterprises (and programs) that seek to:
- Create awareness about the environmental, social and economical advantages of green buildings, and provide practical information on how to build green;
- Promote new urbanism approaches to reduce sprawl in suburban developments;
- Develop (pilot) projects that showcase green building practices;
- Provide incentives to retrofit existing buildings to be more energy and water efficient.
Rather than present a list of indicators, we present different methodologies for assessing impact that can be applied to different types of...
When CBC’s Fifth Estate program launched Rate my Hospital last week, I couldn't help but immediately look up the grade of my hospital across the street. I felt smug that Eagle Ridge wasn't one of the Lower Mainland's batch of terribly ranked hospitals. But should I really sleep better? For the ranking, grades were assigned to 240 acute-care hospitals across Canada based on expert-informed method using five publicly available indicators. The site also allows visitors to rate hospitals in 5 categories - respect, communication, timeliness, cleanliness and whether they would recommend it.
Based on many of the reactions of the powers-that-be in...
It’s not all about the games. The advent of smart phones and tablets can simplify the collection and analysis of data, as well as powerfully capture narrative, in ways we only could imagine until recently. The number of apps available grows daily and it can be hard to know what is even possible to do. I've provided a list of a few apps below to showcase the range of what apps can do in this area. Check app libraries and the internet for more. In choosing your own apps, look for functions such as whether and how you can export data. (I recently lost all my data in a goal setting app, when the version was updated).
GoalScape: Track goals and reporting
Fluid Surveys: Take surveys on the move...
Social change leaders hit the ground running: challenges come up, forks in the road present themselves, and their business models constantly evolve. Ideally, they have some good data on hand that can help with tough decisions, and that provide insights about social, environmental and financial bottom lines.
Social innovation, by its very definition, involves finding new, and more effective approaches to addressing the complex social and environmental problems of our times. We need to collectively learn from what is happening so that we can scale these efforts. Impact measurement is seen as a critical need to developing the sector and building new financial support. Yet, if nascent impact measurement methods are imposed on organizations pre-maturely, we may actually be limiting growth.
The problem with many impact measurement efforts is that organizations get stuck tracking easy-to-measure indicators that aren’t fundamentally important to the...
Keeping an eye on the right financial metrics can allow you to respond to issues before they spin out of control. Financial performance is a key part of the Demonstrating Value Framework. You can download specific tools for social enterprises in our resources section. (Search under Financial Performance in www.demonstratingvalue.org/tools-and-resources)
Three key financial questions:
1. Are you profitable?
Social enterprise operate to fulfill a very specific social and/or environmental mission and costs can be higher than a comparable standard business because of this. Profitability may not always be possible. Other goals could include:
- Self-sufficiency where...
Demonstrating Value is featured in Accounting for Social Value, a new book published by University of Toronto Press edited by Laurie Mook.
This book is full of ideas and practical applications of how standard accounting practices can be extended to reflect a broader set of social interests. Chapter contributions reflect a diversity of approaches and contexts, including the development and application of social accounting tools to:
- engage stakeholders in co-operatives,
- evaluate micro-loan program,
- adopt sustainable purchasing practices,
- support stewardship of biodiversity, heritage assets and systems of knowledge,
- guarantee the integrity of value chains in fair trade,
- show the value of social enterprises.
In Chapter 6, I share...