SIM TIG Week: Evaluators: You’re Invited To The Social Impact Party! by Jane Reisman and Leah Goldstein Moses

Hello! We’re Jane Reisman, Social Impact Advisor and Founder and Senior Advisor of ORS Impact, a measurement, evaluation and strategy firm, and Leah Goldstein Moses, Founder & CEO of The Improve Group, a social enterprise and evaluation, research, and strategic planning consulting firm. We have been active in AEA’s Social Impact Measurement TIG, so we’ve had the chance to hear about our community’s emerging ideas, research, and work. Our members have been developing new concepts at the intersection of investment, entrepreneurship, and social change.

Lessons Learned:

  • It’s an exciting time to be an evaluator and focus on the social impact that has been the focus of impact investing. This growing field has brought a lot of energy and focus on the ways that markets shape our world. We’re struck by the concept that all investment has an impact—intended or not—and that these impacts can be positive or negative. By intentionally focusing on positive impacts and acknowledging risk of negative impacts, market-based actors, e.g., investors and enterprises, can intentionally make decisions and act in ways that achieve positive impact and minimize negative impact. At the same time, there is increasing demand for more rigorous measurement and evaluation in order to figure out whether impact claims are truly authentic, meaningful, and relevant and to use data to better manage for impact. 
  • Jumping into the conversation now feels like walking into a big party that’s well underway: Conversations have started, groups have formed, and the music has shuffled a few times. It can be intimidating and a little overwhelming. But just like when you walk into that party, remind yourself – you belong here! There could be new friends and ideas in the next room. This is a chance for evaluators to help shape, influence, and improve the quality of these efforts. We evaluators can offer important elements such as systems thinking, stakeholder engagement, and various methodological approaches rightsized to the interventions. Evaluators are already influencing the growing field of measuring and evaluating impact. We regularly participate in multi-sector convenings and shape the development of measurement frameworks and systems, such as the Impact Management Project, IRIS+ system, and the IFC Guiding Principles.

For example:

  • Several TIG members contributed to the 2019 IRIS+ system, the generally accepted system for impact investors to measure, manage, and optimize their impact
  • In addition to the webinars, resources, and other work they are doing throughout the year, SIM TIG members are presenting 21 sessions at Evaluation 2019!
  • When investors and social enterprises seek out evaluators’ expertise, evaluators often invite other perspectives to the conversations. Similarly, we’ve brought the voices of community members, customers, and individuals into the conversation about social impact. For example, Social Value International and its US counterparts are closely aligned with evaluation principles in their guidance on involving stakeholders.

Hot Tips:

  • Join us at Evaluation 2019! In addition to our sessions, join us at our business meeting, followed by a late-night happy hour at Finnegan’s, a local brewery and social enterprise.
  • Consider joining our TIG. We’ll be looking for new leaders and members to keep this party going into the future and to make bright contributions to the rapidly growing new sector engaged in social innovation. 

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 theaea365 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 theAmerican Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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