For the March event, YNPN-TC hosted an evening conversation on Social Return on Investment and impact evaluation. Not familiar with SROI? Check out the definition here.
- More rigorous, financial-based evaluation is the direction all sectors are moving (nonprofit, government, philanthropy). As nonprofit professionals, we need to recognize this trend and be ready for the change. Because we are at the beginning of this shift, don’t be afraid to be the benchmark. It’s too early to rely on what’s been done before.
- Measurement and evaluation should be used internally FIRST. They should be central to improvement of your programs and services and should guide your organization’s strategy. Data should not be created solely for funders.
- There is a significant downside to SROI. Boiling down your impact to a single number is what busy funders want, but it can be dangerous. We need to dig deeper and look at the methodology. Just as important as the number is why we are getting the results we are getting.
- Impact measurement is not all created equal. Activities are not as valuable as outcomes, and outcomes are not as valuable as evidence (see continuum below).
- Activities: what you do
- Outcomes: the results of your activities
- Evidence: evidence that these outcomes would not have occurred without you
- Systems integration: collaborating and leveraging other organization’s work to benefit all
- Run before you walk - if you currently report on activities, no need to jump into complicated SROI. Work first towards pushing yourself to measure and report on outcomes.
Learn more! Check out these resources mentioned at the event:
- MN Governor’s Workforce Development Council Net Impact work
- REDF’s SROI work
- Washington State Institute on Public Policy - front runners in cost/benefit work in a number of areas
- Harvard Kennedy School Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab
- Results Based Accountability - not a resource, but a method that could be useful to those not ready to dive into SROI
- TRASI - tools and resources for assessing social impact
- B Corps/Lab