In the world of social finance and philanthropy we are focused on unlocking the key to ‘measuring impact’. Should we actually be more focused on 'measuring value'? You may guess from our name that we are a little biased to the latter!
Of course we do want to understand impact, but I think it would also help us to adopt more of a value focus. 'Value' is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, "the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something." It inherently incompasses impact, but means much more. If the organization you worked for, or that you invested in, were to dissapear tomorrow, what would be missed? It's value is not only it's social and/or environmental impact but what what it means to the people that work there, its financial value, the value of its history, what it's learned along the way and its connections into the community. If we only focus on the 'proof that is in the pudding', we will never know the recipe that created it, and how we can make more puddings, and in different ways.
So let's talk a little less about just impact, and more about value! This includes making sure we measure in a way that can yield insights about the following questions:
1. Impact: How does our work bring about desirable social and/or environmental outcomes (long-term outcomes)? How do people's actions, relationships and behaviors of change to bring this about (short-term outcomes)?
2. Resourcing: What resources do we actually need to create the impact we desire?
3. Efficiency: Are we doing things right to create impact? Can we adjust our activites so that we can do more with the same resources?
4. Scope: How much are we biting off? What scope and activities should be part of our work?