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Books and Guides

The Maximise Your Impact guide was developed within “Know Your Impact: Social Impact Management Tools for Young Social Entrepreneurs” by Estonian Social Enterprise Network, Koç University Social Impact Forum, Mikado Sustainable Development Consulting and Social Value UK. The “Know Your Impact: Social Impact Management Tools for Young Social Entrepreneurs” is funded by Erasmus + programme of the European Union.

“This guide is brilliant. I run several social enterprises and advise lots of others and have a background in social research and think this is the best impact guide I’ve read. It’s clear, not patronising, practical, intelligent. I shall be recommending widely. Thanks to all involved.“
Jessica Prendergast, Onion Collective

If you already know what difference you make – and you can prove it, this guide is not for you. And if you are an experienced evaluator with an understanding of cost-benefit analysis, you will find it too basic. (Have a look at the SROI Network’s “Guide to Social Return on Investment” instead). But if you want to understand more about how your organisation makes an impact – and how much this matters – then read on.

Jargon Buster provides short definitions of technical terms (e.g. outcome, impact, indicator) with links to more detailed explanations and examples.

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Understanding the difference between outputs and outcomes is important. Outputs relate to “what we do.” Outcomes refer to “what difference is there.”

L’Avise, l’ESSEC IIES et le Mouves ont publié un petit précis de l’évaluation de l’impact social.

Cette publication est le fruit de travaux collectifs de près de 20 structures rassemblées autour d’une même volonté : proposer des repères à toute entreprise sociale, association ou structure d’utilité sociale qui souhaite enrichir ses connaissances sur le sujet.

Qu’est-ce que l’évaluation de l’impact social ? A quoi et à qui sert-elle ? Comment la mettre en œuvre ? Quels exemples concrets ? Ce petit précis apporte des éléments de réponse et donne des repères indispensables pour évaluer l’impact d’une entreprise sociale.

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This guide from Quality Matters provides an introduction to three commonly used methods for planning impact measurement for social service organisations: Logic Model, Theory of Change and Social Return on Investment (SROI). The aim of the guide is to provide readers with sufficient information to understand these models and select one that will most suit the needs of their organisation.

This is the first in a series of issue briefs from the Center for American Progress that looks at Social Impact Bonds (SIB) and their value to government agencies. Subsequent pieces will focus on getting the SIB agreement right; models for SIBs and their long-term potential; defining and measuring outcomes for SIBs; and appropriate roles for government agencies in the SIB process.

This brief document by the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines the role and value of impact assessment (IA), including all disciplines, and explains how IA relates to decision-making. It is written for technical people unfamiliar with IA, for decision makers on the fringes of IA, and for people new to this field.

The Network of Network on Impact Evaluation (NONIE) seeks to provide guidance for effective, rigorous impact evaluation. Three sub-groups have focused on particular approaches: experimental and quasiexperimental designs; other approaches to rigorous impact evaluation; and approaches suitable for specific types of aid assistance instruments such as Sector-wide Approaches and General Budget Support. This is the first of three sections produced by sub-group 2. This section (Section 1) provides an overview of impact evaluation – its definition and the context for impact evaluation in development. It sets out four different tasks involved in impact evaluation:

• Identifying impacts that are valued;
• Gathering evidence of these impacts
• Assessing the contribution of the intervention to these impacts
• Managing the impact evaluation

It provides an overview of methods and approaches that are useful in undertaking these different tasks and through this improving the rigour of impact evaluation, and provides some illustrations from evaluations that have used these methods and techniques.

Event Reports

SIAA’s 2013 annual conference, Beyond Measurement, took place on December 10th at ESSEC Business School in France. This publication provides reflections on the day and access to further resources.

External Databases and Resources

SImetrica specialises in cutting-edge research on social impact analysis and policy evaluation. SImetrica’s resources include publications on a wide range of disciplines related to social impact analysis, including:

– The philosophy of policy evaluation (normative ethics);
– The application of social impact frameworks including cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-utility analysis and social return on investment;
– Statistical and econometric analysis for causal inference;
– Valuation of non-market goods and outcomes;
– Behavioural science.

The Impact and Effectiveness Hub from The Guardian contains articles relating to insight, advice and best practice from the community and is part of the Voluntary Sector Network.

IMPACT Magazine is a free, student-run publication at the University of Pennsylvania focused on social impact. Released in print and online, each edition of IMPACT Magazine has a different social impact theme, such as Education, with the purpose of informing, engaging, and inspiring readers about the ongoing issues and action affecting youths, particularly in Philadelphia.

Opinion and Comment

This post is part of a short series on Social Impact Measurement, and the second part of a two-part piece by Felix Beaulieu for On Purpose. This post focuses on potential future models for impact measurement, and the limits, opportunities and risks that come with each of these.

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This post is the first in a short series on Social Impact Measurement for On Purpose. In the first of a two-part piece, Felix Beaulieu describes the converging trends which have driven the need to define and measure social impact, and why this is necessary.

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This blog by Tamsyn Roberts from Cabinet Office UK for the Civil Service Quarterly provides clear explanation of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) and how they work. It includes case studies and a handy diagram.

Elizabeth Woodson from Stanford University talks about the opportunities for students to foster social impact.

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Uscreates Social Value Measurement Toolkit helps you to put in place what is necessary to plan and deliver an effective Social Value measurement approach. Developed in collaboration with leading companies and informed by hands-on practitioner experience, it provides tried and tested insight into how to get the most out of Social Value measurement.

The Toolkit features:
> How to define and map social value.
> How to define the right objectives, set relevant success factors, choose the right methodologies, engage stakeholders and embed your approach in your organisation
> Practical examples and what others have learnt along the way
> Video interviews with practitioners from O2, RBS and EY.
> Case studies from Sainsbury’s, Deloitte, Landmarc, Aviva and Catch22
> Downloadable tools and resources

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Training and Courses

The Fund Raising School, an international leader in fundraising training and professional development, and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, a nationally ranked leader in nonprofit management education, offer the Program Evaluation for Mission Impact course at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). It is one of four required courses for the new Certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership. This course focuses on the techniques and application of evaluation methods to assess the effectiveness of nonprofit programs.

Cornell University offers various courses that focus or touch on social entrepreneurship or innovation. The list includes Social entrepreneurs, innovators and problem solvers, Social Justice and the City: Preparation for Urban Fieldwork, Making a Difference: By Design and Leadership in Nonprofit Environments

The Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford offers an online and distance learning course in Social Entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs are gaining international attention motivated by the desire for change and to see the world as it can be, not as it is. Students in the course will learn how social entrepreneurs have developed creative solutions to address social problems. The intention of the course is to develop knowledge, appreciate of the role of social entrepreneurs that create social change, deepen students understanding of the world around them, and to inspire you to use your skills and knowledge to be as Gandhi said, ‘the change you wish to see in the world’.

Essex Business School at the University of Essex offers a Masters in Social Entrepreneurship. It responds to the increasing demand of socially-oriented entrepreneurs whose missions go beyond earning profit. Social entrepreneurs do not ignore pressing social problems such as poverty, disease, over population, war and terrorism. They employ their entrepreneurial characteristics to develop innovative solutions to make society a better world for life.

By studying this course, you will: enhance your theoretical perspective on social entrepreneurship; develop innovative approaches to addressing persistent social problems in society; learn from distinguished academics and practitioners with substantial professional and social sector experiences; work closely with social entrepreneurs locally or internationally; and participate in the unique Social Venture Academy (SVA) to develop and pitch ideas about potential ventures to social business experts.

Cass Business School at City University London offers PGCert/PGDip/MSc in Grantmaking, Philanthropy & Social Investment. There is a growing recognition, that in addition to a common body of knowledge all managers need in order to succeed, there are critical specialist areas for managers which provide a sound understanding of all aspects of their work and a springboard for further career progression.

This charity degree course is the first of its kind in the UK and Europe and reflects the increasing interest in funding and the need for transparency and accountability. Students will develop a clear understanding of the practices and principles of funding.

Created for professionals in nonprofit organisations, this graduate-level certificate from Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota offers specific knowledge and skills related to human resource development, organisational evaluation, finance, conflict resolution, and decision-making. The Nonprofit Management Certificate curriculum is designed for individuals who do not have formal training in the business aspects of managing a nonprofit organisation.

The Verbandsmanagement Institut (VMI) at the Universitat Freibeug/Schweiz in the Czech Republic offers an elective module in Performance Measurement in Nonprofit Organisations, which provides an overview on theories and concepts of performance management in private NPOs.

The Centre for Social Impact is a collaboration of four universities: the University of New South Wales, Swinburne University of Technology, The University of Western Australia and The University of Melbourne. Their mission is to improve the delivery of beneficial social impact in Australia through research, teaching, measurement and the promotion of public debate.

The ‘how to’ training modules from Better Evidence for a Better Start (BEBS) at Dartington describe how to apply some of the key concepts to develop a strategy for the Better Evidence for a Better Start project. The purpose of this training is to provide local coordinators with the information and skills needed to develop a strategy for their areas. The modules were presented by the Social Research Unit at the ‘how to’ training event on the 22nd November 2013.

The six modules in this training are:

– how to develop a strategy
– how to interpret the Area Wellbeing Profile
– how to interpret the ‘What Works’ data
– how to chart resources
– how to review policy
– how to monitor implementation & outcomes

This is a presentation that was was delivered by Heléne Clark, ActKnowledge and Andrea A. Anderson, Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change at the American Evaluation Association in November 2004. The presentation explains Theory of Change (TOC) and the difference between TOC and Logic Models.


This webinar, from Charity Navigator, introduces their rating dimension. Called Results Reporting, the new metrics specifically examine how well charities report on their results. In the following recording of the webinar, experts explain why Charity Navigator developed Results Reporting metrics, introduce the new methodology and explain the process for implementation.

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This video, from The Social Investment Business (SIB) Group and the Good Analyst, explains what a Theory of Change is and how you can use it as a key step in deciding what you will need to measure to evidence your social impact, using the example of The Rooftop Garden Project.

In this TED talk, Toby Eccles from Social Finance UK explains Social Impact Bonds (SIB), which help fund initiatives with a social goal through private money and the government pays back the investors (with interest) if the initiatives work. He discusses the SIB in Peterborough where it is being used to reduce reoffending rates and in Essex where they are supporting children in care.

This video is from the 2013 Net Impact Conference. Chip Conley, Founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels & Head of Global Hospitality of Airbnb, provided the closing keynote speech: Change Starts with an Idea.

Abt Associates President and CEO Kathleen Flanagan discusses how donors have shifted their perspective to determine the effectiveness of their programs from measuring outcomes to measuring impact with Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar.

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This is the first video in a series of 3 short videos that describe FSG’s concept of collective impact.

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Working Papers and Research

In the early 1990s, a non-profit social enterprise, The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund [REDF] began to analyse its social return on investment (SROI) as a means to illustrate the value generated through an investment in its programmes, expressed in monetary terms. As the methodology developed, it became a key tool for REDF to more effectively evaluate its achievements against its objectives, manage its performance and communicate results. While the true value of many social impacts can not be monetised, the SROI calculation is a straight forward approach to demonstrate value creation for society to social investors of all profiles.

This paper from the London Business School, nef and Small Business Service provides a guide to understanding and using SROI.