The imperative for impact measurement


所有组织都有一个对社会和环境的影响ronmental conditions, whether directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally. Across the private sector, there is an increasing interest in identifying, evaluating, and reporting on non-financial measures. As we explain below, the framing of impact influences the way in which it is measured, and indeed, valued. Rather than viewing impact measurement as the search for a single consolidated metric, we instead think of it as a toolkit of principles, approaches, and processes which allow for informed judgements of what a project or investment has achieved what in terms of social and/or environmental changes.

Impact can take many forms. For example, an organisation may be aiming for a reduction in pollution, an improvement in education, or to build community cohesion. In theOxford Impact Measurement Programme,我们在Saïd商学院合作,,,,we define impact as: material changes, in the long-term conditions of people, planet, and systems, whether unintended or intended, and beyond what would have been expected to occur. Each of these components must be considered in how measurement of impact is examined.


任何干预措施都可能影响一系列利益相关者:从客户,投资者到更广泛的社区或环境。并非所有人都会对资源产生影响。我们的研究认识到,这也是一个谈判过程,其中包括秘密动力动力学,受时间,金钱和数据的限制形成。因此,优先级应该反映出对这些利益相关者最重要的东西,而不是最容易衡量的东西。关于我们选择测量而不是测量的故意选择,告诉我们一个关于选择价值的故事。概念化社会会计作为授权手段recognises stakeholder plurality, and responds to long-standing critiques of positivism.


传统上,影响测量一直是大多数公关evalent in the public sector, expressed through concepts such as performance management or programme evaluation. Governments spend significant amounts of money on initiatives designed to have a social or environmental impact, and they may want to know, or even be mandated to demonstrate, that those initiatives are meeting their intended objectives. Often, these approaches have been focused on a compliance-based reporting, with a view to providing accountability for taxpayers and regulators. Beyond the public sector, the fields of international development, public health, and sociology, among others, have grappled with issues of measurement and valuation over many decades.

最近,人们一直在努力理解和衡量社会和环境的影响。As Colin Mayer has outlined in recent books,,,,companies are looking beyond the single financial bottom line and grappling with the complexity those plural bottom lines create. Boards and investors are integrating these considerations within战略规划和公司目的计划机构投资者正在使用非财务信息为投资决定提供信息。Impact investorsare intentionally deploying capital to generate social and environmental impacts. Philanthropists, civil society, and networks that areadvancing systems change还询问有关影响测量的基本问题。


An indoor farming facility offers a promising look into a future where sustainable development goals are met.

The opportunity for better impact measurement

我们只在日常生活中环顾四周,看看我们似乎如何痴迷于测量。无论是GDP等广泛的国家措施,还是跟踪您今天采取的步骤的数量,指标都以有形和无形的方式影响我们的生活。这既有利弊。标准化指标肯定可以使用可比和纵向数据(例如,每天有10,000步的目标)来影响积极行为。然而,an inordinate focus on metricsmay promote negative effects and incentives (e.g. not paying attention to diet). In the absence of a transparent audit or assurance regime, there has been a rise in ’impact washing’ – where organisations overclaim the impact they are creating or contributing to.


在影响投资领域,投资者有意寻求社会和环境影响以及财务回报,研究和实践与许多紧张关系和机会抗衡。一方面,有运动共享语言,,,,可比较的指标,,,,andsector reporting这是满足资产所有者和资产经理的信息需求的重要条件。他们也是朝着商定会议迈出的欢迎步骤。另一方面,影响测量也可以满足其他利益相关者的需求,例如集成客户观点on if and how their economic or social situations are improving, and to incorporate the interests of allaffected stakeholders。挑战和机会是在每个独特的环境中找到适当的平衡,并致力于随着时间的流逝做得更好。

Impact measurement is of course about looking back – understanding what happened, why it happened, and what it all means. It is also about looking forward to test new hypotheses, validate assumptions, or disprove an approach. In this way, impact measurement should be framed as a dynamic activity – looking back, looking ahead, and looking beyond – that moves beyond reporting, to adding new value. And while we are still in the early stages of designing social and environmental accounting regimes that match the sophistication of traditional accounting disciplines, the scale and urgency of social and environmental challenges around us may create the need for us to get there quickly.

Take a look at the社交影响网络研讨会播放列表on Youtube which has all the webinars across the three social impact programmes atSaïd Business School.