How to measure the social impact of CSO projects: A new methodology

How to measure the social impact of CSO projects: A new methodology




The Contribution to the Future Foundation has developed its own methodology for evaluating social projects and initiatives, taking their social significance into account.


Ekaterina Yadova, Project Director of the Foundation, says that 92% of Russian investors believe that measuring social impact is a must. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult each year to explain what a “social effect” or, as it is also called, “impact” really means. This is one of the reasons why the Foundation decided to devise its own guidance for measuring that elusive “social impact”.


The methodology is based on 30 Russian and international practices, together with the involvement of experienced experts from Evolution and Philanthropy, a non-profit organisation that develops innovations in the social sector.


Yadova explained that they considered social significance as the main criterion that highlights the benefit or potential social impact in problem resolution, taking the likelihood of it being successful into account.


In order to assess social significance, indicators have been analysed against three criteria:


The degree of strategic fit of a particular initiative. This involves semantic compliance with the donor’s internal culture, its potential for incorporation within a group of activities and the extent to which a solution is appropriate and consistent (relevance and compatible);


Potential social impact. This includes an assessment of the magnitude of a social problem in need of resolution and the level of the contribution likely to be made to the proposed solution.


The likelihood of achieving a social impact. This involves assessing the design of a solution, evaluating the level of organisational maturity as well as the risks involved.


According to Yadova, the corporate and non-profit sector experts have had time to examine the methodology in detail and have reacted positively.


“The most significant advantage of the methodology is that it is flexible, transparent and evidence-based and aimed at transformations that take place “outside” in society”, Ekaterina explained.


Alena Bogomolova, head of the Road Home charity’s resource and methodological centre, noted the importance of infrastructure development and the willingness of charities to share best practice and new methods.


“This is an excellent approach that highlights certain requirements for a donor organisation. Being asked for money just because an application is well-written isn’t going to work. It must have a change of theory ready, as well as having a dialogue with different stakeholders”, says Alena.




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