Demonstrating Value Blog

January 13, 2015

This cartoon by DogHouseDiaries made me laugh, both for personal and professional reasons. It certainly brings to mind why we need to have good monitoring and reporting systems in place to find out what's ahead, especially if we don't know the route!


January 13, 2015

NET2VIC Workshop: Demonstrating Value: Build a Management & Reporting Dashboard for your organization
Thursday, February 12, 2015
5:30 PM to 7:30 PM


In this workshop Steve Williams will show you how to demonstrate value by building a management and reporting dashboard for your organization. In this interactive session, you'll develop the outline of a management dashboard that combines financial, social and environmental indicators you can use to lead your team, pitch funders and investors and track your progress.

Location: Fort Tectoria

777 Fort St, Victoria, BC (map)


Suggested Donation $5


Register here


More about Steve Williams:

Steve specializes in Corporate Social Responsibility design, evaluation,...

October 21, 2014

When it comes to measuring and demonstrating value, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. Considerable work, thought and testing has gone into advancing many useful frameworks. I'll be devoting a few blogs to looking at some key frameworks that are used out there, starting with environmental frameworks.


Concern about our environmental impact over the past thirty years has led to evolving frameworks that are used to monitor environmental impact.  While many of these have been applied at national and regional levels to measure high-level changes, it can be useful to also consider these frameworks to demonstrate how an organization or program makes an impact.   This is useful for several reasons:


1) It can help you access and make sense of...

September 18, 2014

How often do you hear politicians in the media talk about the needs of taxpayers?  Too often argues Daphne Bramham, in an editorial I read in Monday’s  Vancouver Sun, “We need citizens, not just taxpayers  and bookeepers.”  Bramham traces the deliberate replacement of citizen with taxpayer, which began in the 1980s with the American anti-tax movement that has since spread to Canada.  Along with that change, she says that politicians began talking more about how much governments spend, and less about the wide range of services that money provides — including health care, courts, policing, environmental protection, roads, transit, funding for the arts, and education.

This article struck a chord because too often I find there is pressure to frame the value of community-based programs in terms of whether it can save taxpayers money.  Will a program...

September 17, 2014

There is a lot of discussion about the need and challenges of measuring impact.  There is also a lot out there about good and bad ways of measuring business performance.  But these two facets alone don’t give a complete picture of the value of an organization and its work.  Measuring organizational sustainability does.

This may be more important than you think. Back in 2008, I convened a workshop of people from organizations that invest in social enterprise in Canada (as part of the research that led to Demonstrating Value).  To kick start a good discussion about what is important to measure, we conducted a survey prior to the workshop that asked investors to rank criteria they use to guide their...

September 16, 2014

Numbers do not speak for themselves.  They need help.  It often seems that the journey to develop a number can be so long that by the time we have finally defined, collected and analyzed an indicator, we often just release them into space with little regard to context and narrative to help others understand their meaning.  



Take this figure for instance:  It cost 2.3 billion dollars to run federal prisons in Canada in 2012.  I know billions is a lot, but what does it really mean?  Is this more or less than last year?  How is this relative to other places?  

The Toronto Sun gives more help along with a little spin to make the taxpayer wake up and take note: “Canadians taxpayers dished out an average of $113,974 to lodge an inmate in a federal prison last year - a 30% increase from four years...

September 11, 2014

Co-operatives create multifaceted value for their members and communities.  They are often formed to respond to specific economic challenges, and create complex social value that is not adequately presented through standard accounting tools.   In response to this challenge, Vancity Community Foundation, in conjunction with the Demonstrating Value Initiative, is launching a project to develop a Performance Snapshot template that responds to the specific management and stakeholder engagement needs of co-operatives. 


As many of you many know, the Performance Snapshot is a management tool that creates an integrated picture of an organization’s performance and that can be used directly in operational decision-making, planning and stakeholder engagement. 

In developing a Performance Snapshot template that is specific to the...

September 10, 2014

A new project is underway that will investigate the collective impacts of social enterprises in Vancouver that are providing employment and training opportunities for people who are marginalized.  Demonstrating Value's Community Partner, the Vancity Community Foundation, is leading the project with funding support from Central City Foundation, Vancity Savings Credit Union, and the Vancouver Foundation..

The project seeks to:

  • gather evidence about health and community development outcomes;
  • develop a monetized estimate of impact; and
  • develop insights into how social enterprises can enhance/and scale their impact.

A goal of this project is to increase legitimacy and policy support for social enterprise as a tool for community development.

This project will employ mixed research methods to investigate impact with the objective of bridging shared measurement methods in evaluation that...

September 9, 2014

I recently came across McKinsey and Company's Learning Driven Assessment Workbook that is based on a great framework for focusing evaluation to meet the needs of different types of programs at different times.  The workbook is a simple on-line tool that is geared to the needs of foundations and investors, and results in an Assessment Plan for measuring social impact.


In my experience, I strongly believe that asking the right questions from the start is key to assessment and learning.  What and how you evaluate must differ according to the nature of the program.  What really resonates with me in this tool is that they have great lists of generic questions that can be tailored to the huge range of work that foundations and Social Finance investors may be supporting.  In working through the tool...

June 9, 2014

Since I first got involved in Demonstrating Value, I've been inspired by the great work out there that is changing how we think, and do measurement.  One group that I am always keen to follow is FSG.   They are a nonprofit consulting firm specializing in strategy, evaluation, and research based in the US.  In recent years they have strongly advocated for shifting our community development approaches to a stronger focus on creating  'collective impact'.   This is where we are much more aware and thoughtful about how impact is the result of the work of many organizations.  They have advanced many new resources that can help organizations to work  in this way, particularly to support how we can collaborate effectively to bring about common desired impact.   


At long last,...