Jacob Allen, Managing Director of Cicero Social Impact, recently published an essay in Philanthropreneurship titled “The Science of Social Impact: Measuring to Prove and Improve Your Theory.” The publication, one of the biggest international venues for thought leadership in the realm of philanthropy, regularly features the biggest thinkers in social change and entrepreneurship.
Jacob’s essay begins by outlining one of the biggest challenging facing social change-makers: accurately measuring impact.
It’s no secret that solving society’s myriad challenges is hard. Really hard. On one hand, millions have left poverty in the last few decades and the world has seen significant progress toward the Millennium Development Goals. On the other hand, the history of the social sector is littered with examples of failed projects and billions of wasted dollars in everything from foreign aid to developing countries to school reform in the United States. Even so-called silver bullets like microfinance and charter schools eventually result in mixed results and unmet expectations, with new innovations following old, ineffective patterns.
Upon close examination, many of these efforts fall prey to similar pitfalls. In our experience with hundreds of organizations working in dozens of sectors around the globe, too many funders, investors, and practitioners take it as an article of faith that their efforts for good will work. But good intentions are not enough; passionate efforts don’t always equal impact. The problem is that this pivotal fact usually goes unnoticed.
The rest of the article lays out a framework and formula for concretely measuring the effects of social efforts. Click here to read the whole article.