5 Tools and Resources for Social Impact Assessment

The field of measuring social impact to evaluate or justify investment is a growing field, one which has the potential to attract substantial investment to solving development issues. This is a great opportunity to diversify your fundraising, but in turn, demands a clear statement of the measured impact you can provide to investors. In order to derive a financial measure of social impact, there a preliminary skillset – that of assessing social impact, which is critical for accurate measurement, and good decision making.

Most of the M&E tools and processes are relevant for social impact assessment, it’s just that assessing social impact requires that these tools are used and methods employed in a systematic way.

The following are 5 tools and resources which will guide you in your Social Impact journey:

#1 Sopact’s complete guide on Social Impact Assessment

Sopact has developed a really useful guide on how to develop your Social Impact Assessment. The guide provides you with a full strategic overview on Social Impact assessment, and how to transform your M&E arsenal into tools for describing the impact you are having. Many of these tools provide a new and applied way of presenting your current M&E theoretical frameworks, and will guide you in framing the impact your are having, as a business investment case.

#2 NEF’s SIMPLE approach to measuring Social Impact for Local Economies

Rathern than a ‘tool’ this resource outlines an approach to Social Impact measurement. Developed by Social Enterprise London (SEL), the approach outlines 5 stages which together help to align convention business strategic thinking with outcomes measurement and evaluation processes. This approach considers its ability to integrate strategy with outcomes analysis as a key strength. Although it  requires some expertise and adaptation to relevant to different applications, it is comprehensive and can be broadly applied to a range of contexts and circumstances. Also, the approach can ‘embeds’ the impact monitoring and methods into more conventional business practices and processes.

#3 Social value UK’s Guide to SROI

Social Return on Investment methodologies involve identifying financial proxies for measures social benefit to then calculate the forecast or actual return on investment. This guide, originally written in 2009, was one the first of its kind, and aims to be a comprehensive toolkit for conducting and end-to-end SROI. This will not only provide you with a framework for articulating the benefit your project yields by achieving its outcomes, but will guide you in using associated financial instruments.

#4 BetterEvaluation’s Rainbow Framework for Impact Assessment

Better Evaluation is an excellent resource for anyone looking to explore impact evaluation, or any broader area of M&E and associated social science research. Although this framework outlines the evaluation process more broadly, it works well applied to impact assessment, and a range of associated articles will enable you to design and frame a robust social impact assessment, and evaluation.

#5 The Social Value Lab and Social Enterprise Institute’s Social Impact Canvas  

This really creative, entry-level and user-friendly option provide practical steps to creating an impact-driven organization, and in so doing, to effectively define your impact measurement systems for ongoing Social Impact Assessment. The Social Impact Canvas begins with you clearly specifying your impact goals, then outcomes you expect to see in line with this, and then provides space for you to map your indicators. You will then define the strategies or actions to undertake to achieve these outcomes. This is the same process for designing your Theory of Change, but linked to a broad base of resources on the platform, including access to videos on how to use this to assess and evaluate social impact makes this a powerful resource for development field teams.

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About Angela Biden

Angela Biden is a consulting strategist and M&E consultant. She has worked across a range of development, and business contexts. She holds a Masters in Economics and Philosophy, and has worked in the nexus of M&E and social impact; to help those doing good do more of it; for some 15 years. From policy board rooms, to Tech start-ups, to grass roots NGOs working in the face of the world’s most abject challenges; Angela is focused on conducting relevant and meaningful M&E: fit for purpose, realistic, and useful for stakeholders creating positive change.
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