How many times have you used the word impact while speaking to your colleagues, peers, co-founders and most importantly funders?
Impact has become such a huge buzzword that sometimes we struggle to define and present it in the most realistic and simplest manner.
As social entrepreneurs, you get caught up in your day-to-day organisational activities (more often than you like) and you land up staggering with where to begin measuring the impact of your work. You know that your organisation has been doing some notable work on-ground, you witness its impact in bringing about a catalytic social change. But when confronted with a plethora of questions by funders about the impact of your work, you may find it difficult to put words to it or present any statistics. Sounds familiar?
We have heard about it a lot so here’s a quick and easy guide to measuring your organisation’s social impact.
Before we deep dive into it, let’s remember why we measure impact at all. We sometimes look at impact from an external lens – the way impact is perceived by funders. However, impact should be viewed from an internal lens – driven by you (the entrepreneur) and your team who work tirelessly and need to understand the impact of your efforts.
Step 1: Identify Outcomes
Start with your vision – the social change that you want your organization to foster. What are the desired results that you want to see over a period of 5 to 10 years? The conditions or factors necessary to achieve your vision are your long-term outcomes. Draw them out and look back at them from time-to-time. They are your guiding stars.
Step 2: Develop Indicators
For each of the outcomes that you have identified, think about ways on how to measure if your organisation is achieving them or not. These numbers are your Indicators/Metrics.
Let’s look at an example:
- Vision: To bring about women empowerment and give them a means to livelihood in the village community
- Activities: To organise women into groups and provide them with skill training (tailoring, paper bag making), building business acumen, and soft skills.
- % of women who are employed in businesses and jobs
- % of women who have started their own businesses
- % of women who feel confident and can express their desire to work
Step 3: Capture Data
- What to capture – Create a list of the data points that are required to measure the indicators. Using the example, information such as how many women were trained, how many of them are working, and how many of them have their own businesses needs to be captured.
- How to capture – You can create a simple format using Microsoft Excel or any other tool that you are comfortable with.
- Who will capture – Any team member – a program-in-charge or a dedicated resource – can easily capture and track this data. Preferably someone who loves numbers and analytics.
- Frequency of capturing data – It can be decided based on the frequency of your program activities like sessions and post-session follow-ups. You can plan to have 2 or 3 cycles of collecting impact data viz. Baseline, Midline and Endline based on the program need.
Impact data should be viewed across a time period to highlight the difference between pre-intervention and post-intervention. This will help you design a better impact story as well as see any pitfalls in your program.
Step 4: Present Data
Once all the information has been captured, this data can be presented in various forms – reports, newsletters, pitch presentations, website etc. You can use online tools such as Canva to make your data presentations more appealing and enjoyable. Your organisation’s impact will be highlighted through the journey of your beneficiaries using both numbers (quantitative data/identified indicators) and stories of change (qualitative data)