Impact Measurement

In the recent times, there has been a lot of discussion on social performance measurement. From CSR initiatives to charity foundations and from investors to social enterprises, everybody has either adopted or has been talking about adopting social performance measurements.

At the same time there is a group of people who think it is all a fad with complicated measurement systems trying to “measure” qualitative factors which are extremely difficult to quantify and hence extremely subjective. How do you measure “well-being” for instance?

The answer lies in the fact that we have to find proxies that indicate well-being. For instance- number of times the person has fallen sick in the last 6 months. This is just a simplified indication of what measuring is about. The job of finding the right proxies is critical and often learnt from experience. We should not land up with a wrong proxy and try to push results in that direction doing much disservice to the actual intent of the social programme or enterprise.

We need to identify a simple verifiable metric and we have to track it in regular intervals beginning with the baseline.

The metrics must be simple to track but verifiable and the tracking methodologies should not be so expensive that it doesn’t justify the the measurement & verification process altogether.

My career has revolved around the issue of “Income Generation” either through providing technology support, training to small entrepreneurs or through providing access to finance. I keep thinking how I can measure the impact of the work that we do on small entrepreneurs.

What could be that one metric that I could measure to keep understand the impact?

I think the primary indicator to keep track of is “Asset” build up. Assets could be land, building, an additional room in the house, a cow or a a vehicle bought with own money. It is easy to verify and track. In cases where it is part funded by loans, we can find out if his last few repayments were made on time.

What do you think?


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