We are Debby Nixon Williams and Alyna Wyatt (Social Impact Measurement specialists at economics-based consulting firm Genesis Analytics) and Alisee de Tonnac, of Seedstars Global, an Impact Investor and business incubator supporting high-growth entrepreneurs in emerging economies.
Over the last few months, we have been working
together to develop a Theory of Change, corresponding indicators, and a
practical and action-oriented performance framework that will be useful for
Seedstars Global as an impact-led business to track, measure, and assess social
impact. We have moved mountains within the organization in terms of progressing
a culture of evaluative thinking and diligent measurement. Seedstars is a
social enterprise that has developed in the private sector sphere with little
exposure to the development sector’s best practice models or language on impact
measurement. As Seedstars began to expand its operations and seek partnerships
with development organizations, they were unable to translate their business
impact into a concise representation of social impact that resonates with the
development sector. This challenge to communicate impact also led to confusion
within Seedstars regarding impact intentions for new hires. Bridging the gap
between the business lens and the social impact lens is a tricky dynamic, and
we could have ended up with a completely useless engagement, but a few specific
things we did may help others bridge gaps in future engagements:
- Despite early skepticism that a Theory of Change and social impact-focused performance framework would be valuable for Seedstars Global, both sides actively committed to learn about the other’s context and needs. Alisee patiently explained the business model while we listened and sought to understand how impact is achieved throughout the interventions. We listened to each other!
- Seedstars tested the measurement potential of indicators by pulling together a centralized historic representation of impact for as many of the indicators as possible. This led to useful iterations in the definition and grouping of indicators. The testing process helped Seedstars to operationalize their measurement system by creating a shared Google tool with individuals assigned responsibility for reporting specific indicators.
- Genesis used the Impact Management Project framework as the approach for the measurement system to bridge the gap between what Seedstars experiences as an impact-oriented organization in the private sector and development framing of results. This framework was a valuable grounding tool for Seedstars’ approach to measurement.
We have all learned a great deal throughout our engagement and have a newfound respect and understanding that impact can be achieved in many different ways!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by theAmerican Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.