What is Social Impact Management?

Social Impact management is an ongoing practice of measuring and improving social investment outcomes, to reduce negative and increase positive impacts of an organisation’s activities. It moves beyond impact measurement as an ‘after thought’ to measure successes of program implementation, and recognises that ‘effective impact measurement is an ongoing process’.

Social Impact Management enables organizations to answer two very pertinent questions,

  1. To what extent are we making a difference?
  2. How can we do better?

Organisations should adhere to 8 critical steps to build managerial systems which support Social Impact Management of their development assistance programs.

  1. Understanding Evaluation: Organisations should invest incapacitating staff to understand facets of impact management and move beyond just impact measurement, to incorporate social impact management in their operations. Evaluation should be viewed within the results based management framework, outlining key activities and their relation to estimated impacts.
  2. Linking to Mission: Organisations should develop a ‘Theory of Change’ at an organisational and programmatic level in order to build a conceptual framework that will drive interventions, ensuring maximum impacts of impact investments, leading to the more effective social responsibility of business.
  3. Prioritising Evaluation: There is a need for organisations to build an evaluative organisational culture where all cadre of staff understand expected impacts, recognise contextual realities and have a plan for success. Organisations need to enhance their team’s readiness and competence to undertake impact evaluations.
  4. Planning for Evaluation: All social investments should be assessed within the framework of the developed ToC, and evaluation processes should involve regular data collection by multiple stakeholders involved with the program. It is important to identify appropriate data collection methods to generate credible findings that strengthen social investments.
  5. Budgeting for Evaluation: Impact measurement should not be conducted only after program completion, but needs to be built into program design where evaluation processes take place throughout the program life-cycle. Evaluation processes need to be identified and required budgets should be allotted.
  6. Driving Evaluation: For corporate social responsibility interventions and for programs by impact investors, it is crucial to have dedicated staff who oversee evaluation results regularly and who ensure evaluation processes are being implemented as planned.
  7. Using Results: Evaluations of impact investments should be planned and conducted in ways that enhance the likely utilization of both the findings and of the process itself to inform decisions and improve performance.
  8. Realising Benefits: Social impact consulting and impact evaluations will help organisations to learn from their successes and failures, and have a strategic plan in place to improve impacts. Based on findings of the evaluation, organisations should once again work with their staff to understand evaluation, make necessary course corrective actions in programs and strengthen their evaluation processes.

Taking these measures will ensure social impact investing achieves desired results.

4th Wheel is a Social Impact firm that enables an organisation to develop and implement a social impact management process. This will enable organisations to manage social impacts throughout the project lifecycle, working as a management and learning tool for projects. Learn more about our Social Impact Management Service here.

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