European Venture Philanthropy Association

EVPA is kindly supported by: Omidyar Network Adessium Foundation BMW Foundation

EVPA Impact Measurement Initiative

Posted on by EVPA


Early this year EVPA launched the Impact Measurement Initiative. The Impact measurement initiative consists in convening a group of international experts, formed of leading venture philanthropy practitioners, consultants and academics to discuss the maze of tools and methodologies out in the market to report the social impact of organisations. EVPA felt that what was most needed was a “how to” guide that does not reinvent what already exists but provides a practical and hands-on approach to measuring impact for social investors and venture philanthropists.

Research and analysis of the existing tools and methodologies showed that most share a general framework that consists of a 5-step process:

(i) setting objectives;

Setting objectives is often a difficult exercise but it is a vital initial step in the measurement process. When measuring performance, we must consider the scope of the analysis and select specific investment objectives that follow the “SMART” framework: Specific, Measurable, Attractive/Acceptable, Realistic and Timeframe. The challenge for VP-organizations (VPO) is to find the balance between “complexity” (burdening the investee) and specificity.

(ii) stakeholder analysis;

An investment may have a multitude of stakeholders including the investee organisation and its beneficiaries. Prioritisation of stakeholders and the data to be collected given the objectives and constraints of the research is an important decision for the VPO. Once the organisation has decided on the relevant stakeholders it is possible to analyse their inputs (if any), their activities and the expected outputs and results leading to an “impact map”.

(iii) outcome, impact, indicators;

In this step clear definitions of output, outcome and impact are critical. It is also important to understand how to use different types of indicators to map the returns of investment. Finding attributions to measure the results of the investment is a complex task.

(iv) valuing impact;

At a certain moment in time, an organisation wants to know or predict what the value of the investment is or will be. This can be done in a qualitative way, a quantitative way or combination of both. The point is to find out what are the tools/methods that are most relevant/applicable to the VP-sector.

(v) information management.

After collecting all this data and information a decision has to be made how to manage it, how to evaluate it, how to make projections to the future and the minimum requirements for a VP organization.

The expert group has been divided into working groups and assigned a step in the process – these are being discussed in a series of webinars which started in April and will end in July.

The first outcome of EVPA’s Impact Measurement Initiative (IMI) will be the draft of a hands-on manual on how to measure societal impact that will be released in November 2012.

This will be presented and discussed on 12 November, 2012, as a pre-conference event to the 8th EVPA Annual Conference. The Impact Measurement Workshop in Dublin Ireland will present a first hand insight into the practical approach to Impact measurement for investors.  The group of experts that worked on the manual for EVPA for six months will present the results in a dynamic way – mixing lecture-style sessions with interactive break-out sessions where participants are able to contribute with their own experience. Instead of sequentially presenting various methodologies such as SROI, Balanced Scorecard, etc, we propose to go over the various steps in the process of implementing impact measurement at the investor level. The manual developed is meant to provide clear recommendations on which parts of existing tools and methodologies are most appropriate depending on factors such as the objectives and resources available to both the investor and investee.

To join us for the Annual Conference and the Impact Measurement Workshop in Dublin please register here:

IMI initiative_news blog