As I mentioned last week, Social Enterprise UK research suggested that the majority of Social Enterprises in the UK find measurement to be a key barrier to fully understanding their impact. While Social Enterprise UK has put forward four steps to integrating social value into any business or organisation, I am also reminded that in research that I participated in a few years ago, three aspects were identified as being important to resourcing and maintaining measurement systems. These don’t really differ significantly from what Social Enterprise UK has put forward, but rather highlight that measuring change or impact is actually a universal issue for any organisation or business that is really committed to making a difference in the world through their business activities.
These three aspects are:
- Strategic investment and funding
- Adequate staff capacity
Strategic Investment and Funding
It is crucial that measurement systems are seen as integral to what an organisation or business does, rather than an add-on to a particular contract or grant. That way, measurement is developed and undertaken in a consistent and focused manner, to the benefit of the business or organisation, not to the benefit of the customer or donor.
The role of the organisation’s leadership in developing and maintaining impact measurement is crucial. While Social Enterprise UK suggests having an internal lead on social value, I would suggest that this has to be part and parcel of the leadership’s priorities.
Adequate staff capacity
This is crucial. Your staff, after all, are the ones who will be doing the measuring. They need to be fully trained and fully resourced to ensure that the organisation gets the best quality measurement data possible. You wouldn’t expect less from your accountant or finance team, don’t expect less (or pay for less) from your programme team.
Underpinning all of this is of course one very important principle: you are measuring impact for your organisation, not to satisfy someone who has given you a contract or a grant. Above all else, make sure that what you are doing and therefore measuring, is central to your organisation’s or business’ reason for being. Do not get pushed off course by a juicy contract! After all what you measure matters, so only measure that which matters to progressing your business.
Do you struggle with measuring social impact? Is there anything more your organisation could be doing to make social impact measurement easier for you?