A new fifty member-strong association of social impact practitioners – the Social Impact Analysts Association (SIAA) – has been launched to try and ensure that members can identify and sign up to an agreed framework on social impact measurement for the sector.
Pressure to improve the sector’s record on measuring social impact has been mounting for several years now both in the sector and amongst policy-makers, but there is still widespread disagreement regarding what should be analysed. Indeed, different parts of the sector — charities vs. social enterprises — barely talk a common language when it comes to social impact. If you don’t believe me check SIAA’s website — they say, “SIAA is committed to assessing our own impact. We are currently developing our own theory of change. Please check back soon for more details!”
The major problem, I believe, is less to do with which social impact measurement technique should win out over the others, and more to do with the following question: what are we trying to demonstrate, to whom, and why?
Until we can answer that question I think efforts to forge a common language on social impact will fail.
Interestingly, despite having only a modest membership fee (£30 pa) and around fifty members, SIAA has three staff and shares offices with New Philanthropy Capital. Currently the bulk of the association’s funding comes from the Bertelsmann Foundation and Dutch charitable funder Adessium Foundation.
It will be interesting to see how much further forward SIAA can take this debate.
Third Sector Online covers the story here.