A comprehensive review of practices around the world confirms that there is no industry standard for social impact measurement in use by social enterprises, social-purpose businesses, charities or the funders and investors that support these organizations.
What is measured in social impact metrics?
The goal of social impact metrics for early-stage social enterprises (CICs, start-ups, innovative programs, experimental approaches, and/or pilot tests) is to demonstrate their model can be more successful than existing alternatives to solving social problems if the social enterprise is adequately supported to develop, grow and/or replicate performance and to improve.
In this phase of the social enterprise, it is also likely that more informal metrics, like the above social outcome measures, would be used by these entities and reported to their funders, who will generally make similar cost/benefit decision as early-stage social investors.
Social enterprises with good early-stage outcomes would then seek to collect more formal metrics as they start to scale. Promising early-stage outcomes sets the stage for additional funding.
Additional funding could include an investment in more sophisticated research to support the quantification of their social outcome benefits.