We invite you to reflect on the level of awareness about the value of impact measurement and reporting and about available approaches in your constituency. To help you assess this dimension, ask yourself whether there are initiatives designed to help raise awareness about impact measurement and reporting among social enterprises and their stakeholders.
Why is it important?
Lack of awareness about the value of impact measurement and reporting among different groups in the social enterprise ecosystem can create tension and lead to misunderstandings. For instance, when an investment manager is more accustomed to dealing with mainstream entrepreneurs and not aware of the specificities of social enterprises, he or she may find it difficult to adequately evaluate the social impact measurement and reporting that a social enterprise carries out. As a result, it may be valued too lightly. In the reverse case, social enterprises may be under the impression that they have to strengthen their impact measurement and reporting practices simply to please investors, but do not see what is in it for them. To address this, awareness-raising campaigns must be tailored to different circumstances and target audiences to ensure that all relevant parties benefit to the greatest extent.
In order to score high, in your context:
- Campaigns illustrating the benefits from measuring and/or reporting impact also consider the challenges and capacity of social enterprises.
- Stakeholders who design impact measurement and/or reporting requirements are made aware of the specifities of social enterprises.
- Social enterprises are made aware of the availability of resources and approaches to measure and/or report impact.
Good Practice Example
Trends and Dynamics in the Portuguese Eco-system for Social Entrepreneurship (Portugal)
In a recent multi-country survey, Portugal stood out for its high share of social enterprises that measure their social performance: 97% of social enterprises in Portugal appeared to do so, versus 65% overall (SEFORÏS, 2016). Like in all other countries surveyed (except for Sweden), Portuguese social enterprises favoured measuring social performance by counting the numbers of beneficiaries or clients served.
One key reason behind the widespread awareness and practice in relation to social performance measurement in Portugal is that social enterprises have to report their social impact to the public authorities funding their activities, since a large share them either receive government grants and/or sell their products or services to government (70% of the surveyed enterprises).
Other initiatives in Portugal also contribute to greater awareness of social impact measurement amongst stakeholders in general, and social impact investors in particular. To illustrate, the Portuguese Social Investment Task Force, was launched in July 2014 as a 12-month initiative funded by the European Commission, aiming to promote meaningful and informed discussion about the potential of social impact investment in Portugal while gathering leading actors across social, public and private sectors. The resulting Portugal Inovação Social represents a key milestone in the promotion of social investment in Portugal. Established by the Portuguese Government in 2015, and approved by the Cabinet Council, Portugal Inovação Social was endowed with EUR 150 million from the European Structural Funds under the scope of the Partnership Agreement Portugal 2020. As such, it has a strong mandate and substantial resources with which to drive the development of the social investment market in the coming next years.
For more information, please see Trends and Dynamics in the Portuguese Eco-system for Social Entrepreneurship (Portugal)
We invite you to consider to what extent impact measurement and reporting features in the public debate and feeds into policy-making. Is the evidence on impact measurement used to inform a critical discussion about the value added by social enterprises?
Why is it important?
Impact measurement and reporting should not be an end goal in itself. The insights generated should serve as a means to identify areas that require improvement or areas that show sufficiently promising results to be scaled. To promote this, policy-makers can commission high-quality impact evaluations of key policy initiatives supporting social enterprises. Importantly, sufficient resources must be foreseen to ensure that valuable insights can also elicit lively debate and ultimately stimulate appropriate action and evolution of the field. There is widespread concern that high quality impact assessments all too often fail to improve public debate and policy-making. Some potential reasons are:
1) the gap between scientific language and popular understanding, which is often left too wide;
2) that acting on findings often requires changing the status quo, which is notoriously difficult to do; and
3) that many academics do not feel sufficiently compelled or comfortable to engage in public debate.
In order to score high, in your context:
- The public sector systematically evaluates the impact of its key policy interventions.
- Evidence produced by impact measurement is used in public debates.
- Research on impact measurement is promoted.
Good practice example
What Works Centres (UK)
In 2013, the UK government launched a network of independent What Works Centres, each focused on a key policy area receiving substantial public funding. The network is underpinned by the principle that good decision-making should be informed by the best available evidence. If evidence is not available, decision-makers should use high quality methods to find out what works. What Works constitutes one of the first times that the UK government has taken such a systematic national approach to prioritising the use of evidence in decision-making.
The centres help to ensure that thorough, high quality and independently assessed evidence shape decision-making at every level. They do so by:
- collating existing evidence on how effective policy programmes and practices are;
- producing synthetic reports and systematic reviews in areas where they do not currently exist;
- assessing how effective policies and practices are against an agreed sets of outcomes;
- sharing findings in an accessible way;
- encouraging practitioners, commissioners and policy-makers to use these findings to inform their decisions.
Existing What Works Centres include: Centre for Ageing Better (improving the quality of life for older people), College of Policing What Works Centre for Crime Reduction (crime reduction), and What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth (local economic growth), The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) (educational achievement), and the Early Intervention Foundation (early intervention).