Nine 'impact insights' for social entrepreneurs like you
A starting point amidst the alphabet soup of impact measurement

Arguably, as a social enterprise, your business model is designed to increase impact as your business becomes more successful, which means that your indicators of impact should be aligned with indicators of business success. There are a lot of free resources available for you to consider using (and we have curated several of them in a separate article, see Next Steps section below), but I would argue that the most important thing for you to know is this:

Measuring your impact should lead to insights that allow you to make better decisions when it comes to managing your business. If you are spending precious resources producing “evidence of impact” that does not lead to actionable insights, then you should work to re-align your business model or the indicators you are using.

people in a brainstorming session Ashoka

In June, young changemakers attended a workshop to foster their role as co-leaders of Ashoka's Everyone a Changemaker Movement by redefining what it means to grow up in today's world. Photo Credit: Ashoka

To get you thinking about this topic, here are nine paraphrased insights from our contributors—all leaders in innovation, social business, and impact management—to get you inspired:

  • Alexis Bonnell, USAID: With self-reliance being the ultimate impact we should strive for, the most important question a social entrepreneur can ask themselves is, do people actually want the products and services I am selling?
  • Rabayl Mirza, Business Call to Action: The best thing a company can do—and they can do this now—is to be transparent about the evidence of impact they have and the process they have used to gather that evidence.
  • Jed Emerson, Blended Value: Impact is not just something we act upon, but rather an opportunity to transform ourselves and understand the value of our own lives.
  • Bill Drayton, Ashoka: The greatest impact we can have in tackling “the new inequality” is understanding that we ourselves are changemakers and ensuring our teams and our families understand that about themselves, too.
  • Liv Elson, Results for Development: We should pay attention to the companies with over a million clients or customers—and those who are on their way to scaling to that size—as they have a lot to teach us about making an impact.
  • Tom Harrison, Business Innovation Facility: Multinational corporations could and should be having a bigger impact in serving the poor than they currently do—and more work needs to be done to scale their promising pilots to their full potential.
  • Sasha Dichter, 60 Decibels: Thanks to the technology revolution, there is a huge opportunity for social businesses to get more data from their customers to help them understand—and iterate—their impact.
  • Cassy Rodriguez, Securing Water for Food: To have the greatest impact, innovators and social entrepreneurs must ask the “what if” questions.
  • Nicholas Colloff, Argidius Foundation: Measuring impact is a cost to business, so it is mission critical that you are effective and efficient in selecting your indicators; don’t choose too many and make sure the ones you do choose help you to understand your business, which is the platform for your impact.
child with slide ruler

Providing evidence of impact in the right way requires a careful selection of the right tools and indicators. Photo Credit: 60 decibels

These insights offer just a snapshot of what this issue of CLUED-iN has to offer. Check out the full interviews and blog posts for much more!

Next steps for entrepreneurs
Practical tools for businesses

For this CLUED-iN issue, there is an additional curated piece with selected tools and frameworks for social entrepreneurs and stakeholders to get started with impact measurement.

Find the one that fits your individual situation best!

Dana Gulley
Dana joined iBAN as the Editor-in-Chief of its online magazine, CLUED-iN, in July 2018. She is the founder and lead consultant at Third Peak Solutions, a firm that advises businesses and nonprofits on developing innovative strategies to solve our world’s most pressing challenges. A trained mediator with a background in natural resources and business administration, Dana has spent her career building cross-sector partnerships to tackle both energy and water issues.