Social Impact Analysis: Launching a National Conversation

Today, impact analysis and measurement are an essential part of social enterprise. As decision makers realize that institutions can and do have an impact beyond their financial bottom lines, impact analysis and related reporting will also become integral to the operations of businesses and governments from around the world. They will become as necessary as traditional financial statements. For evidence of the global importance of impact analysis, we can look to countries like the United Kingdom and India where bills mandating the use of impact analysis have been signed into law.

rulerContrary to the general belief that Canada’s early impact measurement adopters are content to achieve modest growth towards modest goals, I believe service providers and end-users, either non-profit or for-profit, are eager to raise the bar on impact analysis and social value creation.

Take for example the adoption of B Corp accreditation in Canada, which has a significant measurement component. According to Joyce Sou, Manager of B Corps in Canada, the number of B Corps tripled between 2010 and 2011. In this year alone, B Corps experienced strong growth, expanding the number of certifications by 50%.

Organizations that are connected to the impact analysis space, either as end-users or providers have a choice to make. They can choose to stumble along separately, painfully making mistakes along the way, or they can collaborate through sharing lessons and best practices, creating an open market of ideas. If we operate the way that we always have, we can achieve modest goals at a modest pace. The alternative grows a bigger pie for everyone by sharing and standardizing best practices. Everyone wins: Users can expect a certain level of quality and accreditation; and service providers can provide higher value-add options built on common understandings and standards.

In this sense, collaboration is both altruistic and self-interested. It’s a rare and powerful blend of motivations, and one that can propel Canadian impact analysis to the forefront of a global discussion facilitated by the Social Impact Analysts Association (SIAA) and other bodies. SIAA is a global organization that connects and supports professional social impact analysts. Social Asset Measurements and an Advisory Board that includes the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Charity Intelligence, and The Natural Step are facilitating the formation of a Canadian SIAA group.

SIAA logo

On September 13, 2013, Social Asset Measurements (SAM) is facilitating the SIAA-Canada Launch Event, which will set in motion a national conversation on impact analysis. The event is an open forum inviting analysts and end-users from a wide variety of methodologies, approaches and expertise to attend workshops, hotspot sessions, and networking opportunities. All levels of government will be involved in a panel discussion and the audience will be able to directly engage with these officials. It’s an exciting development, and one that we hope will kick-off a national dialogue that can lead to a more collaborative field.

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