To begin measuring social impact, you should know where you’re starting from. Then, you should investigate the problem or opportunity and its impact on people and the environment. Next, you should determine which impact measurement – how to measure social impact will be helpful for you.

Logic model

A logic model describes the connections between program activities and effects and identifies the most effective ways to measure social impact. The CDC Evaluation Working Group provides a section describing logic models. Several fundamental principles of logic model development can be applied to any project. 

Firstly, a logic model helps define a common language for community change. Second, it can help communicate the desired changes to the correct external audiences. Third, the logic model can engage with antagonistic stakeholders. Fourth, it can also hand off activities from one agency to another. Finally, logic models are an essential tool for measuring social impact.

Output assessment

In a recent study, 70% of 33,000 respondents agreed that companies could take actions to increase profits, improve economic and social conditions, and improve social outcomes. The study found that almost three-quarters of 4,900 surveyed companies are now integrating non-financial data into their financial reporting. Considering this, companies must align their strategies and objectives with their social impact measurement.

In the last 20 years, many studies have examined the social impacts of business. Most studies have focused on welfare, politics, and quality of life. However, these studies have also begun to focus on sustainability issues. In other words, social indicators measure how an organization is changing society. By examining these indicators, businesses can measure their impact on the social welfare of their employees and the wider community.

Community wellbeing

Community wellbeing can be measured through a variety of methods. Social cohesion, for instance, is a measure of community subjective well-being. Community emotional well-being can be an end in itself or serve as a means to other ends. The effects of community personal well-being have been the subject of extensive research. Therefore, measuring community well-being to understand its influences can be beneficial. Several factors contribute to community well-being, such as the quality of public spaces, job opportunities, and a sense of purpose.

One approach is to develop a community health index, or a composite index, which consistently measures community wellbeing over time. A community health index can provide information on changes in community health over time and identify any differences by age, gender, race, or amount of time spent in the community. In addition, a community health index can help communities understand their impact on local economics and other metrics. However, the method of selecting a community health index is not without challenges.

Program-level impact

To understand the social impact, you should start by choosing your core impact metrics. Ideally, these metrics should exist and serve as benchmarking standards for your work. Non-profits, startups, and government agencies should use existing impact measurement frameworks, such as the B Corp or the GRI, as a start. Custom metrics are only necessary when existing impact measurement systems do not meet the organization’s needs or if they are deemed to be unreliable.

Choosing a rigorous methodology for measuring social impact is essential to achieve this. The IRIS ecosystem is large and complex, but most organizations will only need a few metrics. Select three to five key IRIS metrics as a starting point, and gradually build your measurement capacity. Once you’ve chosen the metrics you need to measure, consider how to use them in reporting and decision-making.

Communication of impact

To assess the social impact of a program, consider its overall effect on its target population. For example, if an afterschool program promotes good grades among local children, it can help a small group of students or many, but what impact will it have on the overall population? After all, what good is a program that benefits a small group if no one in the community is taking advantage of it?

In a world where people want to do good, it makes sense to create a positive impact on society. The effect of a business on society is an integral part of what the company does, so measurable social impact measures should reflect this. However, this process requires collaboration with stakeholders, and the measurement should be designed in consultation with the beneficiaries and community partners. Without the input of those stakeholders, the company may find this process uncomfortable and may not even want to share its results publicly.