Jane Reisman on Why evaluators should care about the growth in social impact measurement

This is Jane Reisman, Founder of and Senior Advisor to ORS Impact, and an independent social impact advisor. I have taken a deep dive into the practices of impact measurement that are being used by a host of new actors in the areas of innovative finance and market solutions and I encourage your consideration of becoming involved too.

The new investors in social impact across the private sector are working both collaboratively with and independently from traditional social sector actors in the social impact space. Signs point to continued and significant growth of impact investing and other market –based initiatives—particularly as (1) these new industries are beginning to mature, (2) the launch of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which has prompted new discussions about financing for international development and (3) the preferences of women and millennials to align money and meaning.

The growth of innovative finance and market solutions is accompanied by increasing attention to the development of evidence about outcomes and impacts. Yet—there is a gap in the supply of practices, e.g., designs, techniques and tools that are both robust and practical in a market-based context. And evaluators have not been the “go to” profession for these newly arriving social impact actors.

Hot Tip: Both evaluators and impact measurement analysts can benefit by understanding the practices and contexts that guide the each other’s work and contexts.

Rad Resources: The Evaluation Unit of the Rockefeller Foundation is developing a series of papers to explore the implications for evaluation of the new operating environment for social impact work which is increasingly involving market mechanisms in the mix with government, multi- and bi-lateral organizations, philanthropy and non-profit/NGO organizations. See: Streams of Social Impact Work: Building Bridges in a New Evaluation Era with Market-Oriented Players at the Table and the 5th Wave: Social Impact Evaluation.

Hot Tip: The evaluation community faces exciting opportunities to become engaged in bridging the gap between evaluation and impact measurement professions and can play a critical role in supporting the evolution of measurement of outcomes and impacts in a new world order. Look for an AEA coffee break series on this subject this August.

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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