Social Impact Measurement TIG Week: Lessons from Building a Body of Knowledge for Impact Measurement and Management by Allison Ricket

Hi, I’m Allison Ricket from Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service and I am here to tell you about the work I am doing to on behalf of Social Value US to develop a Body of Knowledge (BoK) for the field of Impact Measurement and Management (IMM). I have begun a collaborative, cross-disciplinary process of convening groups of key actors and practitioners to build the BoK for the emerging, evolving IMM field.

What is a BoK? A BoK forms the foundation of skills, concepts, and competencies a professional should demonstrateto practice competently in the field. Many professions (e.g., accounting, legal information professionals, cybersecurity) have BoKs that provide the core teachings, skills, and research in their field or industry; describe the essential competencies to be mastered and applied by practitioners in the field or industry; and form a basis for curriculum of professional programs or designations.

Why do we need a BoK? Although the GIIN has articulated an Impact Measurement and Management definition for the field, the impact space continues to experience growing pains of contention and fragmentation. Measurement and management of social and environmental impacts from businesses is an emerging field of practice; like our evaluation field, it draws from several disciplines and professions, such as evaluation, finance, economics, accounting, and social and environmental research. While there is considerable knowledge, awareness, understanding, and practical experience of impact analysis, this has not yet been codified into a widely accepted—by businesses—understanding of the skills, knowledge, and abilities that are required for practitioners. Still not convinced? Read This.

“Impact measurement and management includes identifying and considering the positive and negative effects one’s business actions have on people and the planet, and then figuring out ways to mitigate the negative and maximize the positive in alignment with one’s goals.” – The GIIN

Here are a few things we have heard during our convenings to develop the BoK:

  1. The time is right for a BoK. Emerging practitioners in impact investing, nonprofits, and (private) corporate officers hold newly created roles such as “chief impact officer,” “impact analyst,” “impact data coordinator” and are tasked with working across departments in unprecedented ways. Further, we repeatedly heard from practitioners the need for professional support and standardized training to convince those they work with that they’re not “making up the whole idea” of impact data collection and management.
  2. A BoK is key to increasing organizational capacity for IMM. Because IMM lacks professionalization, executives and administration at the top of organizations fall prey to thinking impact reporting is the work of a summer intern or a task list that can be added to someone’s “other duties as assigned.”
  3. The BoK would help communication and consensus in the field. Sometimes IMM is conflated with impact investing. To be sure, impact investing has helped to accelerate the work of IMM. However, identifying and quantifying impacts, accounting for externalities, and managing both intended and unintended outcomes (i.e. IMM) are analytic processes present in many contexts including nonprofits, government, NGOs, and individual enterprises. The overarching process of building the BoK can seize the opportunity to facilitate conversations across contexts to deepen our understanding of what it means to account for impact.

Call for Action: If you have capacity and availability to join the working group for the BoK, please reach out to us! You can contact me,, or join the broad community of impact professionals as a member of Social Value US.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Social Impact Measurement TIG 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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