What Do You Call a Group of Analysts?

This blog post was written by SIAA’s Trustee Sue Wixley in the initial stages of the organisations creation back in the summer of 2010 for New Philanthropy Capital’s blog.

What collective noun do you use to describe a group of social impact analysts? A flock (as in flamingoes)? A college (owls)? A shrewdness (apes)?

Finding a collective noun for a gathering of analysts is a challenge we might have to face soon if our plan to establish a professional body for analysts of charities, NGOs and social enterprises works out, as we hope it will.

The idea of setting up such a body – a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute for our sector — has been something NPC and the Bertelsmann Foundation have been kicking around for a while. We’re increasingly keen on the idea because we think that, by helping practitioners to share and develop their methodologies, an Association could build a better understanding of organisations and of what approaches works and what don’t. This in turn could contribute to a healthier and more vibrant sector. (Find out about the practice of social impact analysis and the aims of the Association here.)

Our two organisations hosted the Valuing Impact conference in London just over a year ago to find out if there was any appetite for the idea. An interactive, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-style voting session revealed that 66% of participants thought an association would be useful, and 40% would be interested in becoming a founding member. There was less agreement on whether the body should seek to provide accreditation — the vote was split down the middle at 50-50. (Read the conference report for a full account of discussions and feedback.)

Since the conference, we’ve been reflecting on the feedback received and exploring what setting up an association would entail. We’ve opted for a more inclusive name – the Social Impact Analysts (SIA) Association – over our original idea, the Association of Nonprofit Analysts. We’ve been seeking out and speaking to prospective founding partners and talking to potential members.

We’ll keep you posted on progress and hope to announce more specifics in the coming months, such as the timing of a launch and partner organisations.

In the meantime, do you have any suggestions on what to call a gaggle of analysts? My current fave: a matrix of analysts.

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