Measuring Social Impact: What difference are you making?

From the moment a social enterprise is born it exists for a particular purpose - to create social impact.

Measuring that social impact is how we know if the social enterprise is fulfilling its purpose or falling short of it. As a result, there is need for social entrepreneurs to be aware of how to measure the impact that they are making.

On 26th October, Social Enterprise Academy delivered a programme on Measuring Social Impact in Lilongwe. The event had representatives from different organizations such as the Ministry of Health, JHPiego, Malawi Scotland Partnership (MASP) and the private sector. It was facilitated by social entrepreneur, Barbara Banda - director of the National Association of Business Women.


Why do we need to measure social impact?

The first topic covered on the programme was why we need to measure social impact. From the discussions, the following reasons became clear:

1) To check if the social enterprise has reached its desired goal

The only way that a social enterprise can actually know if they have reached the desired goal is if they measure their impact, otherwise they will simply be making assumptions and wasting valuable resources.

2) To check if people’s needs have been met

Social development is the goal and by measuring if beneficiaries needs are being met, the social enterprise can become more effective over time.

3) To check what is working and what is not

Measuring social impact helps to assess what is making a difference and what needs to be improved.

4) To measure the growth of a social enterprise

By measuring social impact you can see over the time the difference you are making and plan more effectively for the future.

5) To be better able to secure funding

Investors in a social enterprise want to be confident that they are investing into the right organization and that their money is actually being put to good use.

 

How can we measure social impact?

Having explored why we need to measure social impact, there was a discussion on how do we measure this social impact. According to the discussions, the best way to measure this social impact is by having a logic model, which is broken down into 5 stages:

Inputs

The ingredients of the project or the social enterprise

Activities

What is done with those ingredients to reach the desired goal

Outputs

The tangible measurable results

Outcomes

The short term changes and benefits

Impact

The long term results of the social enterprise’s efforts

 

How can we communicate that social impact to others?

After the social impact has been measured, it needs to be communicated to;

  • Investors
  • Stakeholders
  • Public

The social impact can be communicated through various ways;

  • Documentaries
  • Radio
  • Social media
  • Print media
  • Live at the field of work - allow investors to see for themselves the working that is being done

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