AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

CAT | Social Impact Measurement

Hi.  This is Jane ReismanFounder of ORS Impact. I currently describe myself as a social impact advisor as I aspire to create connections between what we do as evaluators and the impact that we hope to achieve.

I’ve been actively engaged- along with other AEA members — in building bridges between the evaluation community and the impact investing community which focuses investments on social/environmental impact. Our efforts are paying off.   Two exciting developments in December 2016 signal progress in bridge-building.   Several AEA members were invited to participate in key events led by the impact investing community:  1) the Global Impact Forum’s strand on measurement and evaluation hosted by the Global Impact Investing Network and 2) the World Economic Forum’s workshop “Accelerating Impact Measurement and Management.”

Evaluators contributed fundamental perspectives during these events that are influencing how the impact investing community shapes the next generation of approaches to impact measurement and evaluation.

Some evaluative perspectives squarely align with existing thinking and practices among impact investors; others push the boundaries.

  • Beneficiary voice and stakeholder engagement are essential to defining and determining value.
  • Diverse approaches utilized by evaluators can be blended with existing and emerging impact measurement approaches to create new and robust methods.
  • Impact measurement and evaluation produce critical data for guiding decisions and strategic thinking.
  • Outputs alone are not sufficient proxies for assessing social and environmental changes.
  • Complexity thinking is relevant to designing effective solutions for social and environmental problems.
  • Theory of change is valuable for clarifying impact and measurement priorities.
  • Building an evidence base for impact investing and other market solutions is necessary for strategic and effective investments.
  • Specific skill sets are required for successfully executing in measurement and evaluation.

AEA’s Social Impact Measurement TIG launched in 2016 will provide opportunities to share and hone our thinking, practice, and evidence in this emergent area.

Hot Tips:

  1. Tune into the momentum for developing the next generation of impact measurement and evaluation and seek opportunities to contribute to these efforts
  2. Recognize that the impact investing community is receptive to contributions from allied fields like evaluation
  3. Respect that impact investing has its own culture and mindset about measurement and evaluation and of our perspectives may push thinking in new directions.
  4. For more information about the SIM TIG, see here. To join the SIM TIG, see here.

Rad Resource:  Situating the Next Generation of Impact Measurement and Evaluation for Impact Investing by Jane Reisman and Veronica Olazabal.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Social Impact Measurement Week with our colleagues in the Social Impact Measurement Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our SIM TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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This is Veronica Olazabal and Shawna Hoffman of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Evaluation team. We have the pleasure of introducing this week’s focus on social impact measurement (SIM) for innovative finance and market solutions.

Hot Tips: What does innovative finance and market solutions have to do with evaluation, you ask?

A lot! In recent years, new forms of capital have been mobilized at unprecedented rates to create social good. The responsibility to contribute to social and environmental outcomes no longer falls solely on traditional government, philanthropic, and non-governmental actors; innovative market players, such as impact investors, are beginning to play an increasingly important part as well. This is significant because it exponentially increases the pool of funds available for social impact (see figure below). The emergence of these new actors presents great opportunity for the social sector, but also carries implications for how ‘we’ think, talk about, and—of course—evaluate impact.sunday-post-image-as-a-jpeg

How can evaluation work with innovative finance and market solutions?

At last year’s AEA conference and pre-conference Impact Convergence our colleagues asked a lot of important questions about how to bridge the evaluation and impact investing and market solutions spaces. Below are the top five questions that evaluators are asking about measurement and evaluation of innovative finance and market solutions:

  • How can we evolve or adapt our practices, goals, tools, and language to enable us to effectively engage with market actors?
  • What are the data needs of market actors? How can differing considerations such as cost, timeliness and risk be taken into account?
  • To what extent is attribution important? Do private sector players care about being able to attribute change in the same way that traditional development players often do?
  • How can evaluators and investors learn from each other and leverage one another’s respective strengths, including the private sector’s strengths vis-à-vis robust accounting, efficiency, and effective use of technology, and evaluation’s adherence to principles of objectivity, rigor and ethics?
  • How might evaluators frame their value proposition to investors and other market actors?

To help respond to these questions, this week we will hear from leading thinkers in this space on how they have responded to this new demand for assessing impact.

Rad Resources: Interested in learning more?

  • For more information about the SIM TIG, see here. To join the SIM TIG, see here.
  • Check out this reading list on Evaluating Impact Investing
  • Follow along this weeks’ AEA365 Tip-of-the-Day and hear from some of the leading voices on this topic.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Social Impact Measurement Week with our colleagues in the Social Impact Measurement Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our SIM TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

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