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Books and Guides

Christian Schober and Volker Then have authored a German handbook introducing an approach to impact measurement and analysis, Social Return of Investment (SROI). The handbook includes practical tips for the concrete implementation of SROI analysis, as well as views and critical reflection of the method with checklists, illustrations and case studies. Published by: Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag, Stuttgart (Germany) 2015.

The SIAA Bulgaria Impact Group, supported by the Tulip Foundation in Bulgaria, has translated the Inspiring Impact (UK) Funders’ principles and drivers of good impact practice into Bulgarian. The principles are designed to encourage good impact practice and to offer practical and useful guidance for funders, and to help funders promote good impact practice amongst the organisations and people they support. The English version can be found on the Inspiring Impact website.

This short guide from Daniel Fujiwara of SImetrica provides an introduction to social impact measurement for policy makers and practitioners to help make better investment and policy decisions. The guide covers five key models of social impact measurement, some criticisms of social impact to watch out for, choosing a social impact method and SImetrica’s approach.

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Measuring Impact: Guidelines for Good Impact Practice was developed by the Impact Measurement Working Group (IMWG) of the Social Impact Investment Taskforce established by the G8. This work elevates existing best practices and aligns with the European Standard for Social Impact Measurement (developed by GECES). The IMWG was established in June 2013 at the G8 Social Impact Investment Forum in London to develop measurement guidelines for impact investors as well as a vision for impact measurement in the years ahead.

Making Sense of Data and Information in the Social Sector, from Markets for Good, is a collection of selected readings from the previous year with ideas about how to upgrade the system for sharing knowledge in the social sector. The b-Book provides a range of perspectives on the most critical data-related challenges facing the social sector, and how these challenges can be addressed. Posts were chosen for their high readership, topic diversity, and thought leadership. The authors debate new and recurring hurdles in the social sector, like capacity and capital constraints; how qualitative data, including stories and beneficiary insights, can be incorporated into data-driven decision processes; and big-, medium-, and small-data management.

These documents explain the relationship between Social Return on Investment (SROI) and 1) Social Accounting and Audit (SAA), 2) GIIRS Ratings & Analytics (“GIIRS” stands for the Global Impact Investing Ratings System) a comprehensive, comparable, and transparent system for assessing the social and environmental impact of companies and funds with a ratings and analytics approach analogous to Morningstar investment rankings, and 3) IRIS (Impact Reporting and Investment Standards) standardized performance indicators to help an organization understand its impact in a credible and comparable way.

The CES Resource Guide: Evaluating outcomes and impact from the Charities Evaluation Services contains over 130 online and published guides, tools, discussion papers and fact sheets on all aspects of evaluation. It is designed as an interactive guide, and is a great go to resource for anyone involved with monitoring and evaluation.

The free guide contains the following dedicated sections:

- General guides and introductions to evaluation
- Assessing outcomes and impact
- Evaluation approaches and methods
- Sub-sector specific guidance
- Creative tools for engaging a range of stakeholders in monitoring and evaluation
- Useful websites

The Network of Network on Impact Evaluation (NONIE) seeks to provide guidance for effective, rigorous impact evaluation. Three sub-groups have focused on particular approaches: experimental and quasiexperimental designs; other approaches to rigorous impact evaluation; and approaches suitable for specific types of aid assistance instruments such as Sector-wide Approaches and General Budget Support. This is the first of three sections produced by sub-group 2. This section (Section 1) provides an overview of impact evaluation – its definition and the context for impact evaluation in development. It sets out four different tasks involved in impact evaluation:

• Identifying impacts that are valued;
• Gathering evidence of these impacts
• Assessing the contribution of the intervention to these impacts
• Managing the impact evaluation

It provides an overview of methods and approaches that are useful in undertaking these different tasks and through this improving the rigour of impact evaluation, and provides some illustrations from evaluations that have used these methods and techniques.

This report from the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector convened by Independent Sector outlines 33 practices designed to support board members and staff leaders as they work to improve their operations. We encourage staff and volunteers to examine the Principles carefully and determine how they should be applied to their organization.

Case Studies

This document from the Social Impact Investment Taskforce presents five case studies to demonstrate how a diverse group of organizations have developed sound impact measurement practices, including how the seven guidelines for good impact practice are being applied in the organization, as well as the organization’s impact measurement practices, the contextual factors that shaped their impact measurement approach, how they involved key stakeholders along the way, and key “impact measurement lessons.”

Event Reports

SIAA’s 2013 annual conference, Beyond Measurement, took place on December 10th at ESSEC Business School in France. This publication provides reflections on the day and access to further resources.

External Databases and Resources

Crisis commissions external researchers to independently evaluate our projects and the services they offer, as well as to produce good practice guides on a range of topics.

Big Society Capital provides guidance, best practice advice and an outcomes matrix for social impact measurement for investors and social sector organisations.

BetterEvaluation is an international collaboration to improve evaluation practice and theory by sharing information about options (methods or tools) and approaches.

The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines offer Reporting Principles, Standard Disclosures and an Implementation Manual for the preparation of sustainability reports by organisations, regardless of their size, sector or location. The Guidelines also offer an international reference for all those interested in the disclosure of governance approach and of the environmental, social and economic performance and impacts of organisations. The Guidelines are useful in the preparation of any type of document which requires such disclosure.

The Global Value Exchange is an open source database of Values, Outcomes, Indicators and Stakeholders. It provides a free platform for information to be shared enabling greater consistency and transparency in measuring social & environmental values. The site empowers users by giving them a voice to share their experiences and allow them to become the ‘creators of knowledge’.

Learning About Our Impact and An Introduction to Impact Measurement from The Big Lottery Fund (BIG) are both available from BIG’s Thinking About Our Impact page. Learning About Our Impact is a report on BIG’s impact in the last year. An introduction to Impact Measurement is a handy guide for those new to impact measurement.

The Learning for Social Impact site, part of McKinsey’s Social Sector Office, was developed to help funders, their grantees, and other essential partners achieve social change by offering best practices, guidelines, tools, insights, and practical help in developing assessment plans that drive social impact.

Information is included on what social impact assessment is, their perspective on learning driven assessment, designing a learning driven assessment and voices from the field.

Guides to Giving Well is a resource centre from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors that provides guidance, case studies and tools for thoughtful, effective philanthropy.

Bond’s Effectiveness Programme, Effectiveness & Transparency, provides practical help for NGOs to prove and improve their effectiveness through tools, insights and support. Five ways the Effectiveness Programme can help:

Health Check: Determine your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses
Impact Builder: Get indicators and tools to measure the effectiveness of your projects
Evidence Principles: Assess and enhance the quality of your evidence
Transparency: Improve trust and transparency through openness
Value for Money: Understand what it means for your organisation

Proving and Improving is a quality and impact toolkit for charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprise for exploring practical ways to measure their impacts and demonstrate the quality of what they do and how they operate.

Tools include AA1000AS, The Big Picture, Co-operativesUK, CESPIs, DTA Fit for Purpose, Eco-mapping, EFQM Model, EMAS, GRI Guidelines, Investors in People, ISO 9001:2008, Local Multiplier 3, PQASSO, Prove It!, Quality First, SIMPLE, Social Accounting, S.E Balanced Scorecard, SROI, Star Social Firm, Third Sector Performance Dashboard, Volunteering Impact Assessment Toolkit.

Proving and Improving is supported by Charities Evaluation Services’ National Performance Programme, which is funded by Capacitybuilders’ and is led by Charities Evaluation Services (CES) in partnership with acevo, the New Economics Foundation (nef), New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) and Voice4Change England.

Opinion and Comment

This collection of think pieces was produced by the ImpACT Coalition in the UK. The ImpACT Coalition is a movement of over 400 voluntary sector organisations that seek to improve accountability and transparency in the charity sector, and increase public understanding of how charities work


Philanthropic donors and foundations are rightly concerned to understand the effect of their work in order to see where and how to improve. This White Paper from Giving Evidence outlines 5 tools to help donors and funders better understand their performance.

The tools involve understanding:
- Are our grants succeeding?
- Is the patient getting better? Leaving aside causation for a second, is the problem we’re addressing getting better or worse?
- Could we release hidden funds by streamlining our processes?
- What do our grantees think of us?
- What have we learned? Identify and articulate lessons about performance and experience, and share them externally such that others can learn too.

The Impact Toolkit from the Economic and Social Research Council includes information on developing an impact strategy, promoting knowledge exchange, public engagement and communicating effectively with your key stakeholders. It aims to give you everything you need to achieve the maximum impact for your work.

Working Papers and Research

The Social Impact Analysts Association worked with researchers Jonathan Gillespie, Ph.D., Anne T. Vo, Ph.D., & Christina A. Christie, Ph.D. from Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to conduct a study of impact measurement within the context of social investment. This report is a summary of results from key informant interviews which were part of a wider research study.

The Social Impact Analysts Association worked with researchers Kristen Rohanna, M.A., Christina A. Christie, Ph.D., & Anne T. Vo, Ph.D. from Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to conduct a study of impact measurement within the context of social investment. This report is a summary of the survey results which were part of a wider research study.

The Social Impact Analysts Association’s Social Investment Working Group (SIAA-SIWG) have released a report that explores the factors that influence how impact measurement is conducted within the field of social investment. The report includes a descriptive research study conducted by the University of California Los Angeles and reflections from SIAA members on issues raised by the study.

This paper authored by Emma Tomkinson, is a selection of stories demonstrating the difference performance management systems make for social programs. It captures the attitudes and approaches of people who have figured out how to make data work for their organisations.

Christian Schober and Olivia Rauscher have authored a German Working Paper which provides a comprehensive overview of the topic of social impact analysis. The paper considers the different methods and approaches of impact analysis in general and monetary approaches in particular. The paper will soon be published in English.
Published by: NPO & SE Competence Centre, Austria, 2015.

From Ideas to Practice, Pilots to Strategy is a report from the World Economic Forum which aims to show how challenged in the impact investment sector have been overcome by mainstream investors and intermediaries. It also intends to democratise the insights and expertise for anyone interested in the field. It is divided into four main sections, and contains lessons learned from practitioner’s experience, and showcases best practices, organisational structures and innovative instruments that asset owners, asset managers, financial institutions and impact investors have successfully implemented.

Many charities are very good at telling people about what they do—their outputs. But often, they struggle to translate this into what their work is actually achieving. How have their activities led to tangible changes in the lives of those they seek to help? NPC’s report by Eibhlin Ni Ogain, Jane Thomas, Mathilde Williams, Sarah Hedley, Sarah Keen and Tris Lumley looks at how charities in the UK talk about impact, and provides advice on good impact reporting.

The report details NPC’s analysis of the annual reports, annual reviews, impact reports and websites of 20 of the top 100 UK fundraising charities, highlighting examples of good practice, and offer advice for charities wishing to take the report’s findings on board, and take practical steps towards communicating what matters, in the most effective way possible.