March 01, 2018

Global Impact Manager at Reach for Change explains the challenges and opportunities of social impact measurement

The EVPA Training Academy’s Impact Measurement and Management Training launched on 15-16 March. Leading up to the course, key speaker,  Annica Johansson, Global Impact Manager at Reach for Change had a discussion with us about social impact, current events at Reach for Change and what to expect from the“Social Impact Measurement and Management” training.  Here is what she had to say:

Annica Johansson

What do you think the biggest challenge is when measuring social impact?

For the early stage small size social enterprises that we support, a common challenge standing in the way for a more developed measurement system is that it requires a certain level of technical expertise that few have in-house and, due to limited resources, are unable to secure elsewhere. As a result, they often trip already at the starting line, in the sense that they move ahead with measuring before first having identified why they are measuring (i.e for what will they use the results), and before first having clearly specified and documented what outcomes that are to be measured. More often than not they instead move straight onto developing measurement tools (their own, instead of using already existing, validated ones), and then apply them to a biasedly selected sample of beneficiaries. Consequently, few reliable conclusions can be drawn based on the collected data, which then demotivates the team and might make them deprioritise impact measurement. On top of this, our experience is that quite a few of their funders will settle for reports on activities, outputs and anecdotal stories, and not push for outcome results, which even further reduces the incentive for allocating resources and time to impact measurement. In order to avoid this negative spiral of events, one of Reach for Change’s most core Incubator support areas is to build the social enterprises’ capabilities to monitor and evaluate their impact in a meaningful and resource-efficient manner.


What does Reach for Change do for Social Entrepreneurs, and what is the added value?

We offer social enterprises capacity-building, network and seed funding in order to help set them up with the processes, people, systems, credibility and connections they need to sustainably deliver and scale proven impact for children. In essence, we help them develop their capabilities and impact faster, better and with lower risk, than they would without our support. We dare bet on them at an early stage when few others would and when the risk is high - but so are the potential returns.  We step up for them at a critical time,when we could make the difference between a social entrepreneur being forced to shut down or being empowered to move full speed ahead towards exponential impact scaling.

Reach for Change runs an Incubator which social entrepreneurs can apply for. What type of social entrepreneur are you looking for?

 We look for smart, brave and passionate Change Leaders with tested and promising solutions that contribute to one or several of the SDG targets for children. A Change Leader has a relentless desire to impact a significant share of the children in their target group and a preliminary idea of how they might do it.

 Reach for Change aims to help and establish entrepreneurs at both national and regional levels. How do you plan to achieve this objective?

 When providing on the ground support to social enterprises in 17 countries - ranging from Norway to Kazakhstan to Chad - it has increasingly become clear to us that our Incubator support in isolation is seldom enough to ensure that our social entrepreneurs sustainably and significantly scale their proven impact. In addition to running our development programs, we also need to address systemic barriers in the wider ecosystem surrounding social entrepreneurship, such as a lack of understanding of the concept, sceptical attitudes among funders, inflexible legal structures and unclear ownership when it comes to driving the sector forward. We operate in countries where the concept of social entrepreneurship has reached different levels of establishment, and our ecosystem development activities vary accordingly, ranging from awareness raising and knowledge building to working closely with Governments in developing legislation and policy, to facilitating collaborations between the social, private and public sector in the strive for collective impact.

If you could describe social impact measurement in three words, what would they be?

 Crucial, Bittersweet, Underprioritised.

You are going to be a speaker on our upcoming “Social Impact Measurement and Management” training. What should the participants expect from the training? How do you think potential participants could benefit from what Training Academy has to offer?

 Based on my previous experience of the training, participants should expect a well-balanced mix of:

(1)   Walkthroughs of easy to use models guide them through step by step how to develop their impact measurement frameworks (and, if applicable, how to support SPOs in developing theirs),

(2)   The opportunity to explore the application of those models through group work around real-life case studies, peer-to-peer exchange as well as taking part of the experiences of practitioners.

I believe the training can help participants become more systematic and feel more confident in the continued development of their impact measurement framework, and also to feel even more energised and inspired to put impact measurement in focus in 2018.

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