CHARACTERISTICS OF SOCIAL IMPACT MANAGEMENT
An organisation that has cultivated an evaluative culture emphasizes values of transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement. To demonstrate a strong commitment to evaluation, organisations should focus on building the internal capabilities of teams along with developing decision-making processes and structures. Impact evaluations should be planned and conducted in ways that enhance utilisation of findings, to inform decisions and improve performance.
A well-developed Theory of Change (ToC) ensures efficiency in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of development projects. A ToC is a visual representation of the change that social investments and programmes will make within the ecosystem they operate in. It illustrates the background and context of social investments, closely examining the assumptions and justifications to link impact to investment decisions while preparing the base for collecting and using data to understand and manage the social impact of those investments.
A Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) framework should outline the scope and objectives of social investments and investment strategies while defining the data and information needs with the corresponding methods and sources of information. It should outline the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in contributing to building the impact evaluation findings while putting in place a strategy for using the results. A good M&E framework ensures enhanced social performance, reduces social and environmental risks, and builds trust through better communication.
A data management system enables regular process (activity) monitoring to ensure the following:
A data management system should also assess contexts in which social organisations and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) companies operate, and constantly document beneficiary perceptions, including their participation, treatment, access to resources, and their overall experience of change. Data systems will aid organisations to move towards a developed culture of statistical literacy, and adopt a more sophisticated approach to data production, use, analytics, visualisation, and communication.
ESSENTIALS OF AN IMPACT MANAGEMENT STRATEGYT
Stakeholder mapping is a collaborative impact management service. It involves research, debate, and discussion that draws from multiple perspectives to determine a list of stakeholders, their influences, and needs across the entire spectrum. Mapping helps to do the following:
This process results in an organisation ensuring good practice in social impact management by integrating stakeholder voices into decisions.
Needs assessments/baseline studies, aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), contribute in the following ways:
Needs assessments/baseline studies build up the database against which an activity’s feasibility, progress, and effectiveness can be monitored and assessed– during programme implementation and after completion. This crucial impact management service maps specific indicators of programmes, under each SDG, based on the global indicator framework developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators.
Investors with credible impact investing practices share learnings where possible to enable others to learn from their experience as to what contributes to social and environmental benefits via a process evaluation. This exercise helps to learn from the implementation experience and identify gaps and successes, which can subsequently help sustain, strengthen and scale social investments. Areas of enquiry relate to implementation mechanisms, project management structures and systems, human resource development mechanisms, internal analysis, and reflection mechanisms.
Evaluation studies should provide rich quantitative and qualitative data to understand the impact performance of different enterprises and social investments against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Metrics that relate to the quantity and quality of effects should inform the findings. Data should be available in a year-on-year format for comparisons and be up to date. Data should involve contextual data analysis against targets with timelines and trends against benchmarks. The development of a counterfactual, using control or comparison groups to assess what changes might have happened otherwise, provides an evidence base for causal linkages.