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Books and Guides

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.

This report from the GECES Sub-group on Impact Measurement features the standard to allow social enterprises of all sizes to better measure and demonstrate their social impact and so help them in their discussions with partners, investors, and public sector funders.

What is social impact? How do I get involved? This flyer from SIAA’s Start Social Impact scheme will answer some of your questions.

Theory of Change is nothing new. It is not just a donor fad or yet another hoop to jump through. It is an ongoing process of reflection to explore change and how it happens in our context. Yet it can provide a very powerful learning lens which makes us ask ourselves and others simple but important questions about what we are doing and why. By focussing attention on the lasting changes we aim to bring, and reflecting on what really contributes to those kinds of changes, it can help us step out of ‘project activity’ mode, question our assumptions, and focus on what really matters. It enables us to learn from others, build a common understanding of our work and develop clarity in our strategies and partnerships. It provides a clear framework for learning, monitoring and evaluation.

So many people in the development world are talking about ‘Theory of Change’ but many are confused as to what it really means. This guide from INTRAC, written for small and diaspora organisations as part of the Common Ground Initiative Peer Learning Programme, therefore aims to demystify theory of change and highlights a few useful resources for further exploration.

The Practical Guide is a resource that distills best practice in impact measurement into five easy-to-understand steps and provides practical tips and recommendations for how to implement impact measurement at the level of the social investor and in the social sector organisations that they support.

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.

This document from the SROI Network details the seven principles of Social Return on Investment (SROI).

This guide written by Alan Kay from the Social Audit Network includes reference to the range of frameworks and methods developed to help organisations explain and account for their performance and impact. It is a “roadmap” to the social accounting and audit process and has been written for social enterprises, social economy organisations and voluntary sector organisations that wish to regularly account and report on their social, economic and environmental performance and impact.

Network of Networks for Impact Evaluation (NONIE) is was formed to promote quality impact evaluation. NONIE fosters a program of impact evaluation activities based on a common understanding of the meaning of impact evaluation and approaches to conducting impact evaluation. By sharing methodological approaches and promoting learning by doing on
impact evaluations, NONIE aims to promote the use of this more specific approach by its members within their larger portfolio of evaluations. This guide from the World Bank by Frans Leeuw, Maastricht University, and Jos Vaessen, Maastricht University and University of Antwerp, was developed to support this focus.

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.

The Good Enough Guide helps busy field workers to address these questions. It offers a set of basic guidelines on how to be accountable to local people and measure programme impact in emergency situations. Its ‘good enough’ approach emphasises simple and practical solutions and encourages the user to choose tools that are safe, quick, and easy to implement.

This pocket guide presents some tried and tested methods for putting impact measurement and accountability into practice throughout the life of a project. It is aimed at humanitarian practitioners, project officers and managers with some experience
in the field, and draws on the work of field staff, NGOs, and inter-agency initiatives, including Sphere, ALNAP, HAP International, and People In Aid.

The Good Enough Guide was developed by the Emergency Capacity Building Project (ECB). The ECB is a collaborative effort by CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, the International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam GB, Save the Children, and World Vision International.

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.

This paper from Cabinet Office outlines some of the ideas and themes from the discussions held at the G8 Social Impact Investment Forum on 6 June 2013. It sets out:

- the perspectives shared
- the challenges identified
- the actions agreed which will help build an international market

In March 2013, Social Business International and the University of Northampton hosted the Inaugural E3M European Conference themed around the topics Markets, Money, Models and Measurement. It took place e in the context of
the EU Social Business Initiative. The European Commission was a conference partner and seven senior
Commission officials from DG Internal Market, DG Employment, Social affairs and Inclusion, DG Research and
Innovation, and BEPA attended the event.

The aims of the event were to promote business opportunities between social enterprises from different
countries within the single market, to share knowledge and to shape the policy agenda on social business
going forward at EU level and in member states.

London Voluntary Service Council (LVSC) and the Social Impact Analysts
Association (SIAA) jointly hosted an event to explore, on a
practical level, the challenges which social purpose organisations face in
assessing their social impact. This event report provides an overview
of the presentations, discussions and learning from the evening. It also sets
out a number of recommendations and follow up actions that emerged from
the discussion and evaluation of the event.

This report synthesises the learning from the first convening facilitated by the Social Research Unit at Dartington and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2011 on scaling what works in improving maternal health and reducing infant mortality in the developing world.

These slides summarise emerging lessons from several discussions on how to scale impact convened by the Social Research Unit at Dartington with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They are the product of the brilliance of many experts whose discussions are synthesised in two publications entitles Achieving Lasting Impact at Scale Part 1 and 2.

This report synthesises the learning from the first convening facilitated by the Social Research Unit at Dartington and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2011 on scaling what works in improving maternal health and reducing infant mortality in the developing world.

External Databases and Resources

The Collective Impact Forum is an initiative of FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. It is a place to find tools and training around collective impact, as well as an expanding network of like-minded individuals.

It’s not easy to measure the impact of development research in bringing about positive change. It’s even harder to show how communications efforts, and expenditure, helps to achieve both research objectives, and development outcomes. This section of Research to Action’s (R2A) website aims to offer key resources and insights to help support better monitoring and evaluation of research uptake activities.

The Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN) is a platform, supported by the Cabinet Office, working with social entrepreneurs around the world. It utilises the learning, models and expertise from the UK and from all other country members who join. It will be a peer learning service for support agencies, with the potential to open out to social entrepreneurs themselves as a virtual social incubator at a future point.

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

The good evaluation of a project or a policy needs on the one hand thorough application of methodology up to the highest professional standards and is on the other hand a creative thought exercise: what do we really want to know and how to find out.

This resource provides information on the methodologies behind how the European Commission (EC) evaluates their projects or policies. It includes:

- Evaluation guides: for the geographical and thematic evaluations, for evaluation managers or evaluators and for project and programme evaluations, including checklists
- Methodological bases: subject, timing, utilisation, roles, method
- Tools: to structure an evaluation, to collect and analyse data, to assist the formulation of judgements
- Impact diagrams/indicators: a set of intervention logics, outlining key chains of results and a menu of example indicators for some key EC intervention sectors
- Overall assessment: the development of these documents has been accompanied by a group of international evaluation experts.

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’.

J-PAL Europe was established in May, 2007 to expand J-PAL advocacy work in Europe and include European researchers in the J-PAL network. The office also manages J-PAL activities in the Middle East and parts of northern and francophone Africa. Based at the Paris School of Economics, J-PAL Europe works to improve the effectiveness of social programs world-wide by supporting researchers working on randomized trials and disseminating their results in order to provide policymakers with reliable information that can make their policies more effective.

J-PAL Europe is a regional office of J-PAL, a focal point for development and poverty research based on randomized trials.

More than 6400 publications have now been selected by TSRC for inclusion in the Third Sector Knowledge Portal - an easy-to-use online library of research, evidence, and analysis.

It has been developed by TSRC in partnership with the British Library and the Big Lottery Fund, and brings together over 6000 works such as: impact reports from third sector organisations; academic research projects; government studies; and more, in one collection of downloads, links and summaries.

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.

Venture Philanthropy and Impact Investing from the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) is a compilation of resources on venture philanthropy, grant philanthropy, social investment and impact investing.

Impact Reports

Opportunity International empowers people living in poverty to transform their lives, their children’s futures and their communities. Their 2013 Social Performance Report documents their journey of transforming their social mission into practice.

Opinion and Comment

In this blog, Doug Taylor, CEO of United Way Australia, writes about Collective Impact and how he sees it as a useful guide in tackling a complex social problem for a population group in a local community.


The Collective Impact Forum is an initiative of FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. It is a place to find tools and training around collective impact, as well as an expanding network of like-minded individuals.

This resources from Climate Change Social Learning and Communication (CCSL) can help you get started with the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of your social learning approach, or to improve your existing monitoring strategy (from a social learning perspective). As an important element of an iterative, adaptive management approach, M&E should be carried out continually and inform actors and decisions in short feedback loops, to facilitate looped learning. In the context of social learning, monitoring should be as social as other aspects of a project’s approach, involving all actors in a project.

ICT sector companies are working together to improve the practice of sustainability and social responsibility within their supply chains. To this end, the GeSI Supply Chain Working Group has teamed with the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct (EICC) Implementation Group and other groups to develop a set of tools that satisfy broad industry needs. These tools include this questionnaire, a risk assessment tool, a common approach to auditing, and additional web- based resources. Deployment and use of this Self Assessment Questionnaire is expected to benefit both industrial customers and their suppliers by:

- Raising supplier awareness about the importance of sustainability principles
- Clarifying ICT customer expectations regarding their suppliers’ sustainability practices
- Supporting ICT customer assessments of supplier characteristics and potential risks
- Enabling suppliers to evaluate, improve, and communicate their performance
- Reducing the burden on suppliers of responding to multiple questionnaires

Training and Courses

The Collective Impact Forum is an initiative of FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. It is a place to find tools and training around collective impact, as well as an expanding network of like-minded individuals.

The Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford offers an online and distance learning course in Social Entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs are gaining international attention motivated by the desire for change and to see the world as it can be, not as it is. Students in the course will learn how social entrepreneurs have developed creative solutions to address social problems. The intention of the course is to develop knowledge, appreciate of the role of social entrepreneurs that create social change, deepen students understanding of the world around them, and to inspire you to use your skills and knowledge to be as Gandhi said, ‘the change you wish to see in the world’.


This is the conference video from SIAA’s annual conference on 10th December 2013, at ESSEC Business School in France.

This video is from the 2013 Net Impact Conference. Chip Conley, Founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels & Head of Global Hospitality of Airbnb, provided the closing keynote speech: Change Starts with an Idea.

Abt Associates President and CEO Kathleen Flanagan discusses how donors have shifted their perspective to determine the effectiveness of their programs from measuring outcomes to measuring impact with Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar.

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Working Papers and Research

The SIAA Challenge Report 2014 by Kate Ruff provides an overview of an international competition between impact analysts who were given the same real data from the same real charity and asked to create a comprehensive, concise and compelling assessment of the charity’s impact.

The world is on the brink of a revolution in how we solve society’s toughest problems. The force driving this revolution is “impact investing”, which harnesses entrepreneurship, innovation and capital to power social progress. This report from the Social Impact Investment Taskforce, Impact Investing: The Invisible Heart of Markets – Harnessing the power of entrepreneurship, innovation and capital for public good, examines what is needed to catalyse the growth of a global market for impact investment. It makes recommendations that can be implemented across Taskforce countries and beyond to deliver better social outcomes and improve millions of lives across the world.

The Social Impact Investment Taskforce established under the UK’s presidency of the G8 have produced subject papers related to the report “Impact Investment: The invisible heart of markets”. Supplementary reports are available on:

- Policy Levers and Objective report
- Asset Allocation
- Measuring Impact
- International Development
- Mission Alignment
- “Impact Investing for Everyone” - A Triodos Bank report produced for the Social Impact Investment Taskforce established under the UK’s presidency of the G8

This research paper by Neil Reeder, Gemma Rocyn Jones, John Loder and Andrea Colantonio (LSE) is the second in the Measuring impact beyond financial return series and follows on from Measuring impact and non-financial returns in impact investing: A critical overview of concepts and practice. It draws out points of convergence and divergence in approaches to impact measurement.

Testing out hypotheses set out in the first research paper described above, it is based on information derived from a series of interviews with established impact investors in the fields of the environment; social enterprise; microfinance; and social impact bonds.

How to monitor and evaluate advocacy work as part of development interventions is a significant challenge faced by many advocates. So what are some of the possible solutions? Building on a series of papers, conferences, training and learning from INTRAC consultancy work, this paper aims to share and learn from an INTRAC monitoring and evaluation (M&E) workshop held in 2013. It draws on four case studies presented at this workshop and offers eight key points that organisations should consider when designing an advocacy M&E system, as well as an annotated list of resources and reading materials.

Social Impact Analysts Association (SIAA) has now conducted our first exploratory research project to help examine the values, behaviours and practices of social impact analysts, and to gather views and opinions on SIAA’s work. A lot of the information collected has already been used to help shape SIAA’s annual conference and for discussion at board level.

‘Where we are now’ is a summary report of the views expressed during interviews about the current situation for social impact analysts and practitioners. This summary aims to provide a useful insight in to key issues affecting practitioners internationally, such as defining social impact analysis, the evaluation vs social impact debate and developing professional standards.

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.

The Single Market Act II states that “the Commission will develop a methodology to measure the socio-economic benefits created by social enterprises. The development of rigorous and systematic measurements of social enterprises’ impact on the community is essential to demonstrate that the money invested in social enterprises yields high savings and income”. The Social Impact Measurement (GECES) sub-group was therefore set up in October 2012 to agree upon a European methodology which could be applied across the European social economy. This paper provides a summary of the report on social impact measurement.

This report from Social Finance UK and the Centre for Global Development presents the findings from the Development Impact Bond (DIB) Working Group. The report explains how DIBs can enable more impact investment in development, by providing a shared platform for governments, donors, investors, firms and civil society to work together to achieve more.

The Social Impact Analysts Association’s (SIAA) Principles of Social Impact Analysis Mapping Exercise provides a summary of principle sets, governing different approaches to, measurement, analysis, reporting and use of learning from social impact assessment and evaluations. This resource was developed by the SIAA Working Group on Principles.

CGIAR is implementing a change process that aims to develop new approaches for research and innovation, focus research activities and increase the collaboration among centres and with other partners. An essential component of the change process is the creation of 16 research programmes, known as CGIAR Research Programs; Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), which started operations in January 2012, is one of them.

This report Javier Ekboir, Genowefa Blundo Canto and Cristina Sette for CGIAR describes a pilot project that developed a
methodology that seeks to contribute to answering important questions about RTB’s impact pathway by identifying the actors RTB is collaborating with. The methodology used a user-friendly, Internet-based survey to collect information about active collaborations between RTB-financed researchers and a wide range of partners.

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Several tools have been developed in the last three decades to manage not-for-profit research activities. Most of these tools have focused on research outputs or outcomes, while few have analysed the processes of research and innovation to identify emerging problems and opportunities during the course of a project. This brief from CGIAR by Javier Ekboir, Genowefa Blundo Canto and Cristina Sette presents a cost-effective methodology that can be used to monitor changes in research networks.

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This working paper from Neil Reeder and Andrea Colantonio (LSE) provides an overview of the underlying concepts of impact investing as a form of socially responsible investment. Drawing on relevant literature, this paper casts a critical eye on the roles and responsibilities within measurement, making more explicit the subjective interpretation of social and environmental return (SER) by investors, and the clash of suppositions taken from other older measurement traditions.

E.T. Jackson and Associates Ltd prepared Accelerating Impact: Achievements, Challenges and What’s Next in Building the Impact Investing Industry for The Rockefeller Foundation in 2012. It includes sections on Impact Investing: What It Is and Why It Matters, Achievements and Challenges: What’s Happened So Far, and What Hasn’t, Opportunities and Directions: What’s Next?

The 2012 study reports from Eurosif (the European Sustainable Investment Forum) detailed figures against the most common sustainable and responsible investment strategies adopted by European investors and shows that each of these has outgrown the overall market since 2009.

Ex ante impact assessment is a tool and process to estimate the likely future effects of policy proposals, and a Social Impact Assessment (or SIA) concerns the social effects rather than the economic, fiscal, environmental and so on. Well-conducted SIA can support evidence-based policy-making, strengthen the mainstreaming of social protection and social inclusion into other policy areas, and facilitate stakeholder participation in the whole process. But it has become clear that SIA is not a panacea for ensuring that government policies help achieve social objectives. Nor is it well developed throughout the EU. This Peer Review from the European Commission is concentrated on one aspect of the problem — that of appropriate methodologies, tools and data sources, as illustrated by real-life cases. It builds on past work which compared and analysed different ways in which SIA is carried out in the Member States and studies which reviewed methodologies suitable for assessing employment and social impacts.

This paper, by Anju Malhotra, International Center for Research on Women, Sidney Ruth Schuler, JSI Research and Training Institute and Carol Boender, JSI Research and Training Institute, reviews the literature on women’s empowerment and suggests supporting empowerment both as an end in itself and a way to educational, economical and health development. It begins with a discussion of the various conceptual frameworks of women’s empowerment, and then examines the ways in which women’s empowerment projects have been implemented and measured, ending by stressing the positive development outcomes of women’s empowerment.

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This paper from Oxfam summarises a two-year research engagement project with the investment community on their role in contributing to poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Do learning networks really make any difference? Do people ever apply what they have learnt? And how does this help the poorest people we are trying to assist? This paper from International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC) argues that learning networks should not fear or dodge such challenging questions. Taking them seriously throughout the life of a learning group can help ensure it remains relevant and effective. There are relatively simple, ‘good enough’ ways to monitor and evaluate. What is needed is the courage and commitment to make it happen.

This report, by Howard White, reviews the methodological and practical issues in conducting studies on impact, drawing on the experience of the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank. Impact evaluation provides a measure of aid effectiveness, that is how good development aid is at reducing poverty. Critics of aid argue that there have been few attempts to measure its impact. This may have been true in the past, but there is a growing body of literature on impact evaluation.

This paper by John Hailey and Mia Sorgenfrei for International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC) responds to the current climate in which NGOs are under pressure to invest in evaluation and impact assessment. Funding constraints, calls for accountability, and concerns about quality and effectiveness have led to demands for more sophisticated performance measurement strategies. The authors chart how, historically, performance measurement systems have undergone similar evolutions in the public, private and non-profit sectors: from product to process orientation; from quantitative to qualitative methods and indicators. The development and relief arena presents its own challenges, as it is characterised by complexity, unpredictability and continuous change. This paper flags up key issues for practitioners such as how to choose appropriate approaches, how to apply them in a culturally sensitive way, how to ensure stakeholder participation and how to mobilise adequate resources.