Over recent years there has been a tremendous upsurge in demand for organisations — across both charitable and commercial sectors — to provide more information about their social and environmental impact. For social-purpose organisations, these developments have brought considerable opportunities as well as some new pressures. While effective impact reporting should allow organisations to tell their story more fully, a lack of standardised procedures has often made the task seem complicated, and even daunting. At its core, impact measurement seeks to gather crucial information about an organisation’s activities, and use it to relate the overall change brought about to people’s lives and the environment over a particular period of time. As such it offers value on four key fronts, represented by its four primary readers.
This paper presents our practical experience of implementing impact measurement within an impact investing context. We discuss a number of case studies of how investments have carried out evaluation and what we have learnt from this practical experience. As a result of testing the Standards of Evidence over the last two years, we have learnt a number of lessons about what does and doesn’t work.
The measurements you take must be geared toward outcomes that matter to you. This allows your organisation to see what works, to identify where improvements can be made, and to learn from results when making decisions about the future. Impact measurement and the results produced provide a powerful tool for communicating what your organisation does. Transparent reporting promotes trust and confidence among donors, and allows you to talk to funders and bid for contracts with tangible evidence of your outcomes. Also in a broader context, being able to articulate your impact enables you to inform the public about your work — raising awareness not only of the issues that concern you, but also of the things you have achieved.