Measuring impact

When it comes to measuring impact, I tend to see this as a Goldilocks dilemma. As this post by members of Inclusive Business Action Network (iBAN) reminds us:

If they spend too little time tracking the efficacy of their work, they could waste resources and lose the confidence of their backers. But if they spend too much time on it, they could still end up wasting resources and doing less of the good they initially set out to do”.

Many frameworks

Many groups have been working in recent years to develop frameworks for measuring impact that satisfy the needs of both standardizing and allowing for a certain degree of customization. StartingUpGood provides an overview of the most prominent ones, including: IRIS (Impact Reporting and Investment Standards), GIIRS Rating (Global Impact Investing Rating System), B Impact Assessment, SASB Standards, and GRI Standards.

Regardless of whether metrics are focused on development, capacity, or markets, it is vital to remember the reason behind tracking them in the first place. The purpose is to work together towards achieving a real, lasting impact.

Jed Emerson, who developed the Blended Value Approach, explains:

Metrics are only as good as the integrity of the data going into their calculation and the degree to which we understand their purpose.” We need to understand our intent:

  • Are metrics being used to assess the efficacy of a given impact strategy?
  • To improve the performance of a firm at the enterprise level?
  • To justify the investment of philanthropic or market-rate capital?
  • To help us understand a dynamic venture, a diverse portfolio of capital, or a public policy strategy?”

Some Tools

I have also found that there have been some efforts to simplify the deployment of impact KPIs and metrics. To speed you up, I recommend considering any of the following:

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Peter Drucker

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