Demonstrating Value Blog

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 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...
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:...

November 1, 2012

Measuring tapeThat’s exactly what the UK based New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) was interested in finding out when they surveyed 1,000 charities in a recently released research project: Making an Impact. Released October 16, this 73 page document outlines the pleasant surprises and troubling challenges that face non-profits that are trying to demonstrate their impact.

The study examines the roles of charities, funders, and government and the changes that need to happen within each group to improve the overall practice of impact measurement. While this research was conducted in the UK, many of the trends are taking place in Canada too....

October 25, 2012

Right now, data visualization is a hot topic! It’s a great tool for presenting long sets of data in a way that’s efficient and easy to understand. Data visualization isn’t a new concept, but through innovation and new technology there are now more ways to view, understand and remember high levels of information.

We’re partial to performance snapshots as an effective tool for data visualization. They’re succinct when sharing information, visually appealing, and allow the user to interact with the data, which ultimately increases their understanding of it. But we’ve come across other noteworthy data visualizations as well.

Nowadays, the traditional bar chart or pie graph is a thing of the past. Even mind maps, concept maps and other traditional graphs or mapping systems are just the tip of the iceberg. Data visualizations are now elegant and extraordinary, so much so that you may be inclined to hang them as art once you’re done analyzing the data.

...

October 16, 2012

We got in touch with Cathy Deagle Gammon, Executive Director of Dartmouth Adult Services Centre in Dartmouth Nova Scotia to learn about how she used Demonstrating Value principles in a 15 minute presentation and raised $25,000!

DV: Can you talk a bit about Dartmouth Adult Services Centre?

Cathy Deagle Gammon:
DASC is a DASC logonon-profit vocational day program for persons with an intellectual disability. We provide services for people that range all the way from personal supports to employment supports.

DV: How did DASC first become involved with Demonstrating Value?

CDG:
At a conference for social enterprises. I...

October 11, 2012

Last week from October 1 – 4 San Francisco was host to Social Capital Markets 2012 (SOCAP12), an annual conference that connects global innovators, investors, foundations, institutions and social entrepreneurs in a discussion about directing the power and efficiency of market systems towards creating social good. 

This year, impact investing, crowdfunding and issues facing young social enterprises were all hot topics. While you may not have been able to partake in the conference, you can still find out what was discussed, as SOCAP has shared all the presentations and panel discussions online.

We’ve been watching the presentations, and one in particular caught our eye:...

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