Key Takeaways: Methods to Gather and Communicate Impact Data for Your Social Enterprise

Katie Hale

Community Manager

In part one of our four-part impact measurement webinar series, we explored how to develop a theory of change to define and articulate your social enterprises’ impact strategy. 

On September 28th, we welcomed back Integrative Solutions CEO and Senior Consultant, Dr. Deepti Sastry, for part two: “Methods to Gather and Communicate Impact Data for Your Social Enterprise.” During this session, Dr. Sastry asked participants to reflect on what aspects of their impact they struggled to evidence, and walked social enterprises through how to measure progress against their theory of change by identifying “gold standard” evidence to prove their impact. 

You can access the full recording here, and below, we’ve included key takeaways from the session to help you determine which impact measurement frameworks, methods, and tools are best to gather and articulate your impact. 

Identify KPIs for your “so-what” metrics

The first step is to identify the key performance indicators for your most important metrics. They don’t always have to be responsive to your “so-what” metrics, but they should act as a proxy that demonstrates your progress towards the change you’re trying to make. These “so-what” metrics measure change at a broader level, and can verify the social value you provide or the validity of your business model. 

Exercise to develop key performance indicators for "so-what" metrics

Measure progress at a slightly less ambitious level

This is where you measure the progress of your activities and validate the methods you use to gather data. There is a method to gather the data connected to your KPIs. Determining how to measure it can be the most challenging part, but the right method should enable you to answer if you’re delivering your operations as planned. Here are some examples:

How to measure KPIs graphic

Understand the opportunities and pitfalls of different methods

Each method of gathering data has a use case and an audience. There are four natural methods of gathering data for social enterprises, and it’s important to understand the benefits and potential risks of each: 

  • Randomized control trials
  • Case studies
  • Anecdotal data
  • Surveys
Benefits and pitfalls of different methods of collecting data

Understand what kind of evidence your audience is looking for

Social enterprises must know what their audience is looking for regarding evidence. A “gold standard” is likely necessary for venture capitalists or other financial institutions, in which case you may want to use a randomized control trial. Private investors might just look for the “good enough” evidence, which can be demonstrated using qualitative methods. Know who you are trying to convince with data so you understand the evidence needed to prove your impact. 

As you begin to establish success indicators that prove your organization’s impact, keep in mind the data collection methods above and choose the method most aligned with your “so what” metrics and audience so you can best gather data to articulate your impact. Then, join us again on October 12th part three of this series, where Dr. Sastry will share tips on how social enterprises can use impact data to improve sales and reinforce or disrupt their value chains.