In a recent blog, I described some work that Vancity Community Foundation had led to develop a societal cost calculator for work integration social enterprises (WISE) in Vancouver. Another aspect of the project, was to develop a shared impact map and indicators. While individual social enterprises within Vancouver differ in the goods and services they produce and the way in which they engage individuals who are marginalized, they are all working towards similar outcomes. An outcome is a term used in impact maps (logic models/theory of change) that describes the social change that occurs as a result of the strategies and activities of a social enterprise.
Our challenge is to be able to capture these outcomes more formally and in consistent terms across different enterprises and in a way that could help to aggregate information for policy and planning. Social enterprise participants were involved in a facilitated workshop to develop a shared impact map (logic model). The impact map defines short, medium and long term outcomes. We then researched a set of indicators for each outcome based on one or more of the following six criteria:
- They draw on validated assessment tools that have been tested for reliability and validity, particularly in relation to the population and context.
- They have been used in evaluations of employment and social support programs (and social enterprise where available).
- They relate to indicators that have been defined at a planning and/or policy level for understanding community development and health inequity (for instance, by the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Coastal Health and other agencies where applicable).
- They can be related to measures collected through the BC Social Enterprise Survey.
- They are easy to collect and understand, and could be integrated easily into the operations of the enterprise.
- They relate to academic research that have investigated the impact of supportive employment and/or social enterprise.
Hopefully this shared impact map and indicators lay a useful foundation to help focus future impact measurement efforts for WISE social enterprises.