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Books and Guides

This resource provides an overview of different tools and resources, with links to further information, that nef consulting uses for evaluating and assessing impact. These include:

- Social Return on Investment (SROI)
- Multi-Criteria Appraisal (MCA)
- Outcomes Evaluation
- Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (CEA)
- Social Cost-Benefit Analysis (SCBA)
- Social Value Appraisal
- Local Multiplier 3 (LM3)
- Prove and Improve Toolkits

This resource from the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT) provides information about evidence-informed public health.

This report by Lizzie Trotter, Jim Vine, Matt Leach and Daniel Fujiwara from HACT, produced in conjunction with Value Calculator, places robust values on the social impact of community investment activities. It includes values as well as practical guidance on how to apply them to achieve a basic assessment of social value using the Well-being Valuation approach.

The Social Investment Roadmap from the Cabinet Office UK sets out the steps that the UK government is taking to ensure that there are the right conditions for social enterprises to thrive in the UK through tax relief.

Everyone acting in or for the Third Sector now recognise the importance of measuring impact. The key question has now become: how to do it efficiently?

There are many ways to create and embed a successful impact measurement system within a specific project or an organisation, using highly customised tools, or more standardised one. The Social E-valuator is one of the latter. Thanks to its web-based tool, it supports organisations throughout the process of analysing and evaluating social impact. Social E-valuator makes social impact measurement better accessible, cost-efficient and enables organisations to report about impact in a consistent way.

This free webinar introduced impact measurement using the Social E-valuator tool. The webinar lasted an hour, during which Stone Soup briefly introduced the topic, and a case study based on the company “Philips” - The Philips Employment Scheme (WGP) - was used by Social E-valuator to illustrate how to measure impact and how to use Social Evaluator tool to do so.

This document by The SIB Group and The Good Analyst is aimed at helping organisations that are looking to develop their own social impact measurement and reporting. It draws on a wide body of existing research to set out the fundamentals of measuring impact and working with results. It takes a non-prescriptive approach, as they believe that the first requirement of any impact measurement system is that it is of greatest use to you. Rather than telling you what you have to measure, the guidelines lay down an explicit framework as to how your ideas, your activities, and the things that matter most to you can be assembled into a coherent system for impact measurement and reporting.

This report by John Copps and Dawn Plimmer for Inspiring Impact addresses the issue of youth unemployment. It helps organisations that work with young people understand and measure the impact they have on the journey to employment.
It features the Journey to EmploymenT (JET) framework.

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 resource from Social Finance UK provides information on their experience in developing SIBs. This tool acts as a template for developing approaches to move more resource into prevention work. The report focuses on Children Services although will be useful for other local authority services areas where there is potential for significant social impact.

Social Finance is committed to providing a range of support for those interested in developing SIB proposals. This could range from full engagement through a detailed feasibility study of a particular intervention or issue area to help with specific parts of the SIB development process (see below for further details of this process). We are aiming to provide a set of tools to help minimise the costs of developing these products and we hope that this guide – which is intended to be freely available – is a useful start point.

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

‘Measuring and managing total impact: A new language for business decisions’ from PwC explores why business needs total impact measurement, how to do it and the benefits of embedding it into decision making. PwC showcase ‘Total Impact Measurement & Management’, the framework developed with clients to provide the total perspective on business impact.

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This paper, by Andrea Westall for NAVCA’s Local Commissioning and Procurement Unit, provides an overview of the different tools and approaches that are being used and developed for measuring and evidencing how charities and community
groups create social value, and discusses the implications for these organisations.

This is a guide to the Continuum of Evidence of Effectiveness from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; a continuum that defines the standards of Best Available Research Evidence in the field of violence prevention and provides information for decision makers in this field on these standards.

This is the first catalog of methods for the Double Bottom Line Project that for-profit and nonprofit social ventures and enterprises can use to assess the social impact of their activities. It analyses feasibility and credibility of 9 methods and provides examples of them in use:

- Theories of Change
- Balanced Scorecard
- Acumen Fund Scorecard
- Social Return Assessment
- AtKisson Compass Assessment
- Ongoing Assessment of Social Impact
- Social Return on Investment
- Benefit-Cost Analysis
- Poverty and Social Impact Analysis

Case Studies

This publication from Nina Mguni and Nicola Bacon at the Young Foundation presents three case studies of the Wellbeing and Resilience Measure (WARM). The report consists of three parts: Defining local wellbeing and resilience, Constructing the Wellbeing and Resilience Measure (WARM), Applying WARM in three case study local areas and Selecting indicators and creating the measurement framework.

External Databases and Resources

Since 1989, ORS Impact have been delivering deep value into their clients’ organisations, working together to pursue ‘the change they seek,’ and to improve their communities’ health, wellbeing, and prospects to flourish. They share these resources, with a view to building capacity in organizations doing good work around the world. Resources are on topics inclusing Theory of Change, Evaluation Practice, Outcomes and Advocacy and Policy.

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.

MaRS Centre For Impact Investing’s Knowledge Hub shares tools and resources on impact investing. It includes presentations, webinars and resources for getting started, a sector map to connect with other people, organisations and initiatives, a guide to social finance, tools and methods for social impact measurement, and a space to access and share resources and find funding sources.

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.

Founded in 2006, the Center for High Impact Philanthropy has emerged as a unique and trusted authority for donors seeking to maximise the social impact of their funds.

Resources include:

- What Are We Talking About When We Talk About Impact?
- Beyond Compliance: Measuring to Learn, Improve, and Create Positive Change
- Five Myths and a Question About Impact
- Global Children’s Health: A Toolkit for Donors

The resource also contains many philanthropic investment guides and reports.

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’.

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 Centre for Social Impact Bonds in the UK Cabinet Office provides information on Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), includes a knowledge box, information on funding, case studies and blogs.

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.

The Big Society Capital resources provide information and tools for understanding social investment. Information is included in the following categories: Why is social investment beneficial?, How do organisations use social investment?, Types of social investment, The social investment market and How to become a social investor.

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

The resources centre from the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) provides information on impact investing. The site includes news, research, events, impact investing profiles, GIIN publications, investor spotlight, useful links and career centre.

The Theory of Change library is an on-going project of the Theory of Change Community, with the long-term goal of being a comprehensive resource for all things TOC – background, how-to, books and articles, case studies and examples, videos, and presentations.

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Inspiring Impact is a programme run by a collaboration of UK voluntary sector organisations and aims to change the way the UK voluntary sector thinks about impact. They have developed a range of resources including the Code of Good Impact Practice, Funders’ principles and drivers of good impact practice, Blueprint for shared measurement and more.

The Big Society Capital social impact resources include their approach to establishing best practice among social investment finance intermediaries (SIFIs) as well as providing a standardised taxonomy and set of definitions for outcomes based investing. These best practice guides are aimed at the SIFI model and will therefore not necessarily apply to all investors. They do not include environmental outcomes.

The TRASI online community space exists to foster conversations about social impact assessment via forum or blog sections. The Community portal also includes relevant reports, posts, events, tweets and videos. It is a service of the Foundation Center.

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CES has a wide range of tools and resources available on their website to support charities with evaluation, performance improvement, monitoring outcomes, and implementing quality standards.

Monitoring and evaluation are essential to judge effectiveness in policy engagement. However, in the complex work of policy influence, monitoring and evaluation can be highly challenging. Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) is working at the sharp edge of Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) own monitoring and evaluation systems to help overcome these challenges. On their website you can find case studies and examples of their evaluations, practical tools and theoretical frameworks and approaches for monitoring, evaluation and learning.

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.

Impact Reports

Making their lives better: now, tomorrow and every day is Action for Children’s Impact Report 2014. This report draws on a wide range of evidence, using both quantitative and qualitative data and includes findings from independent evaluations, a variety of measurement tools and services funded through social investment.


Uscreates Social Value Measurement Toolkit helps you to put in place what is necessary to plan and deliver an effective Social Value measurement approach. Developed in collaboration with leading companies and informed by hands-on practitioner experience, it provides tried and tested insight into how to get the most out of Social Value measurement.

The Toolkit features:
> How to define and map social value.
> How to define the right objectives, set relevant success factors, choose the right methodologies, engage stakeholders and embed your approach in your organisation
> Practical examples and what others have learnt along the way
> Video interviews with practitioners from O2, RBS and EY.
> Case studies from Sainsbury’s, Deloitte, Landmarc, Aviva and Catch22
> Downloadable tools and resources

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The Value game is an online web tool for surveying your stakeholders. They will tell you the importance – expressed as a value - of what they experience as a result of using your products or services, the outcomes.

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The Simple Wheel provides tools for nonprofits to measure their impact, and for donors to better inform their giving.

The Journey to EmploymenT (JET) framework from Inspiring Impact helps organisations that work with young people understand and measure the impact they have on the journey to employment.

Collective Impact is a framework, from Collaboration for Impact, designed to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems. It is an innovative and structured approach to making collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organisations and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change.

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.

MEASURING NATIONAL PROGRESS – To truly advance social progress, we must learn to measure it, comprehensively and rigorously. The Social Progress Index from Social Progress Imperative offers a rich framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing. The 2014 version of the Social Progress Index has improved upon the 2013 ‘beta’ version through generous feedback from many observers.

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

Koç University Social Impact Forum, founded in November 2012, aims to foster social innovation through education, research and collaboration. KUSIF is structured to be “the Research and Practice Center” to create social impact by enriching future leaders, academia, and staff with experimental learning, advanced knowledge, and valuable networks. It is “the Social Innovation Catalyzer” for CSOs, business and community to create social impact by helping social organizations tackle current challenges and by engaging businesses more productively with the community through support networks, effective M&E tools, and ongoing development resources.

The Charities Evaluation Services (CES) are leading experts on providing high quality training to help you to develop your work on monitoring, evaluation and quality improvement. CES offers a variety of training courses including courses on PQASSO, Theory of Change, outcomes, impact measurement and practical skills.

Working Papers and Research

Do you communicate data and information to stakeholders? These special issues of New Directions for Evaluation edited by Tarek Azzam and Stephanie Evergreen address data visualisation and evaluation. Part 1 introduces recent developments in the quantitative and qualitative data visualisation field and provide a historical perspective on data visualisation, its potential role in evaluation practice, and future directions.

It discusses Quantitative visualization methods such as tree maps, Sparklines, Web-based interactive visualisation, Different types of qualitative data visualisations, and a toolography describing additional data visualisation tools
and software, along with their major strengths and limitations.

Part 2 delivers concrete suggestions for optimally using data visualisation in evaluation, as well as suggestions for best practices in data visualisation design. It focuses on specific quantitative and qualitative data visualisation approaches that include data dashboards, graphic recording, and geographic information systems (GIS).

Readers will get a step-by-step process for designing an effective data dashboard system for programs and organizations, and various suggestions to improve their utility. The next section illustrates the role that graphic recording can play in helping programs and evaluators understand and communicate the mission and impact that an intervention is having in a democratic and culturally competent way. The GIS section provides specific examples of how mapped data can be used to understand program implementation and effectiveness, and the influence that the environment has on these outcomes.

Eibhlin Ni Ogain, Lucy de Las Casas, Marina Svistak co authored this publication from NPC’s work on Inspiring Impact. The report is about shared measurement, which involves charities working towards similar goals reaching a common understanding of what to measure, and developing the tools to do so. The report discusses the benefits and challenges associated with shared measurement, and through analysis of twenty approaches, examine how it is developed and draw lessons for future initiatives.

This report by Eibhlin Ni Ogain, Sarah Hedley and Tris Lumley presents the new suite of tools to help social investors, and those seeking social investment, that Big Society Capital commissioned using a team comprising NPC, the SROI Network and Investing for Good with the aim to embed a robust approach to impact in their work.

The tools presented here are:

- An outcomes matrix, which segments outcomes within the social welfare and environment arenas into 13 outcome areas.
- Outcomes maps, which drill into the detail of the outcomes matrix, providing overviews of the key outcomes, indicators and data sources commonly used in each of the 13 areas.
- Guidance on investor best practice.

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The Outcomes Star is a case-management and outcomes-measurement tool developed by Triangle Consulting Social Enterprise in the UK. This guide provides a practical approach to implementing the Outcomes Star that will ensure quality and consistency.

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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The Framework of Outcomes for Young People by Bethia McNeil, Neil Reeder and Julia Rich and the Young Foundation is designed to highlight the fundamental importance of social and emotional capabilities to the achievement of all other outcomes for all young people.

It proposes a model of seven interlinked clusters of social and emotional capabilities that are of value to all young people, supported by a strong evidence base demonstrating their link to outcomes such as educational attainment, employment, and health.

It sets out a matrix of available tools to measure these capabilities, outlining which capabilities each tool covers, and key criteria that might be considered in selecting an appropriate tool – such as cost or the number of users.

It outlines a step by step approach to measuring these capabilities in practice, that is illustrated in four case studies that exemplify how the Framework might be used by providers, commissioners and funders.

This paper, written by Andrea Westall, an Associate Fellow of the Third Sector Research Centre and a Strategy and Policy Consultant, provides an overview of the different tools and approaches that are being used and developed and discusses the implications for smaller organisations. NAVCA’s Local Commissioning and Procurement Unit provide practical information, advice and guidance on public service delivery by voluntary sector organisations in communities across England.

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 discussion paper, by Mike Brewer from the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, discusses how Member States can best develop effective ex ante social impact assessment; the intention is to focus the discussion on
methodology, tools and data sources, rather than on processes, structures, or measures to stimulate demand for Social Impact Assessments. It is focused on tools and methods for performing ex ante impact assessments.

This briefing paper by Gianni Zappalà, published by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI), outlines a framework for understanding and solving social problems.

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This paper by Joy MacKeith from Triangle Consulting seeks to describe the development process for the Outcomes Stars as a suite of tools which are designed to simultaneously measure and support change when working with vulnerable people as service users. It describes the original process of development of the first Star, in homelessness services in the UK, and subsequent roll out to other client groups and in other countries. The paper indicates the theoretical and philosophical under-pinning of an approach which aims to embody both research and values-based practice in empowerment and respect for the individual.

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The Development of the Outcomes Star by Joy MacKeith was originally published in Housing Care and Support: A journal on policy, research and practice. This paper describes the development process for the Outcomes Stars as a suite of tools which are designed to simultaneously measure and support change when working with vulnerable people as service users. It describes the original process of development of the first Star, in homelessness services in the UK; and subsequent roll out to other client groups and in other countries. The paper indicates the theoretical and philosophical under-pinning of an approach which aims to embody both research and values-based practice in empowerment and respect for the individual.