Demonstrating Value Blog

May 29, 2013

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...

April 26, 2013

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...

April 23, 2013

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...

April 2, 2013

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

March 20, 2013

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...

February 22, 2013

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     


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...
February 8, 2013

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...

January 28, 2013

Measurement and target-setting often go hand in hand.  They don’t have to.  In my work with social enterprises and investors, I find there is a mysterious hurry to set performance targets.  My view is that targets can be a useful tool to foster learning and inspire performance, but too often they are set prematurely, in haste, and aren’t necessarily meaningful to those that define them. 

On the plus side, targets:

  • can be inspiring and focus an organization towards a common goal;
  • are a tool for learning about progress, and can be a jumping off point for discussing what works and doesn’t;
  • can be a useful link between strategy and day-to day operations.

On the negative side, targets:

November 29, 2012

There’s added value in using multiple frameworks when completing an impact evaluation. SROI – an evaluation framework growing in popularity – expresses value in monetized terms, and is one such framework that can be used in conjunction with Demonstrating Value. 

We sat down with Simon Anderson Simon Anderson & Garth Yule(left), senior SROI analyst with Social Asset Measurements and Garth Yule (right), manager of evaluation and community impact with Vancity Community Foundation to find out how Demonstrating Value and SROI can work together to provide a deeper understanding of social impact.

What’s the value of using...

November 22, 2012

These days, it’s not hard to find information online. Run a Google search – no matter how obscure – and you can instantly gain access to websites, magazines, newspapers and blogs dedicated to your topic. The difficulty then lies in sifting through the search results for quality content that’s current and relevant to your needs. 

At Demonstrating Value, we keep a close eye on online discussions about social impact measurement and evaluation. Whether it’s for a social enterprise, non-profit or any other type of organization, we want to know! We’ve put together a list of five recent and noteworthy articles that further the conversation of impact measurement and evaluation. Don’t forget to keep an eye on our Twitter feed for interesting articles as well!

From the Guardian Social Enterprise Network:...