In theory, social impact measurement should be a powerful tool to improve the European social economy. It can help individual organizations set realistic objectives; monitor, learn from, and improve their activities; prioritize decisions; and access funding. Collectively, social impact measurement can help organizations working on similar social issues or in similar geographic areas better understand the aggregate impacts of their work and collaborate to achieve greater change.
And at a European level, agreed upon standards, common indicators, and benchmarks can allow policy makers to evaluate the impact of the social economy on society, advocate for more public funding of social economy organizations, and help donors and investors direct their resources to the interventions that have the most impact.
But in practice, social impact measurement has often come up short. Nonprofit organizations and social enterprises, often pressed for money, typically underinvest in impact measurement. As a result, they lack the evidence that is needed to secure funding from government, grantmakers, and impact investors. It is a vicious cycle that breeds cynicism and distrust.
Measuring Social Impact Can Help Foster a Stronger European Social Economy
Leonora Buckland, Lisa Hehenberger
Stanford Social Innovation Review
12 May 2021