Beyond Measurement

by Kate Ruff, PhD Candidate in Accounting at Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada

Echoing the views of Tris (read them here), I think we do ourselves a disservice when we frame discussions about social impact as discussions about social impact measurement.

I’ve noticed a tendency to view social impact measures like Hogwarts Sorting Hats. We talk about social impact measurement as if the resulting data (qualitative and quantitative) will unambiguously tell us if the program was effective, where to invest/donate our money, or which strategy to deploy to reduce poverty.  When measures fail to deliver unambiguous answers, we seek better measures, more standardized measures, more rigorous measures, even more expert measurers.

I wonder if this emphasis comes at a cost? What might we see if we look beyond measurement? What if we took the emphasis off measuring and turned our attention toward the difficult task of making careful nuanced decisions based on imperfect measures. I’m looking forward SIAA 2013 Beyond Measurement to start exploring how can we get better at using measures to improve social impact.

For more information about SIAA’s 2013 Annual Conference Beyond Measurement click here.

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