Measuring Impact — The billion person question

A post on today announced that the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) just launched a new framework to measure social impact of a business or organization. While the name of the framework, Measuring Impact Framework, is not the catchiest in name, it is attempting to do something that has been a challenge so far within the field of social entrepreneurship. We have written many posts to this issue in the past, you can check them out here.

The goal of developing an effective measurement system is a topic of much research and debate and numerous models have come prior to this one an a number more are likely to follow. A post on Socialedge from last year listed the following:

•    Balanced Scorecard Methodology (New Profit Inc.)
•    The Acumen-Mckinsey Scorecard (Acumen Fund)
•    Social Return Assessment Scorecard (Pacific Community Ventures)
•    AtKisson Compass Assessment for Investors (AtKisson)
•    Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (World Bank)
•    OASIS: Ongoing Assessment of Social Impacts (REDF)

Makes you wonder whether or not we need a metric to measure the effectiveness of these metrics. But in all seriousness, quantification of social impact is a complex and at times impossible task, effectively guaranteeing that none of these indicators on their own will ever fully get the picture. The most important thing, however, is to recognize that while each may come from a slightly different angle and methodology, the actual organizations and ventures that sift to the top should be relatively the same. Those in the middle are likely to differ as subtle differences in how each index weights various factors may cause significant movement among organizations that are scored closely together. However, like many rankings and indexes, those organizations that are consistently on the top of multiple metrics are there for significant reasons that should be relatively immune to methodological differences.

It is then when we can either know that the methods are being accurate (or all suffer from an identical fundamental flaw) and then when they in complement will have the greatest utility.


Remote Blogging: Skoll World Forum 2008 — Review of Panel on Corporate Partnerships

The Strategic Partnerships Between Multinational Corporations and Social Entrepreneurs used the metaphor “dancing with elephants” as the overarching theme for discussion. SustainAbility’ s Maggie Brenneke also described the concept of “intrapreneurs,” which are individuals within established companies thinking and acting entrepreneurially.  While somewhat obvious, the panel primarily focused on the importance of maintaining relationships between the social venture and the company and also the need to have constant and clear communication over each parties’ goals. (Source: Socialedge)

Remote Blogging: Skoll World Forum 2008 — Points of Interest from Opening Plenary

  • Phil Hope, the Minister of the Third Sector in the UK spoke about the creating of a social stock exchange and its ability to promote transparency in the global social entrepreneurship field.
  • Karen Tse, of International Bridges to Justice spoke about the cross cultural challenges associated with being a social entrepreneur across borders, but also stressed that certain values should be promoted universally.
  • Lord Anthony Giddens spoke about the world’s continued inaction on climate change and tried to come up with reasons and solutions for the lack of proactive measures taken by the global community.

Sources: Acumen FundSocialedge

2008 Skoll World Forum Starts Today

This looks like to be a very exciting event, and while it is too late to attend in person, Skoll has hired the help of livebloggers for the entirety of the conference. Go here for live updates. ThinkChange India will be following closely via the same feeds and will be providing periodic updates over what is being said during the conference, if you want a more concise recap of the events.

To make organization easier, we will create a temporary category labeled as SWF2008 so that you can quickly and easily head to it.