December 2007

Measuring impact: who counts?

Volume 12 , Number 4

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December 2007

Measuring impact: who counts?

Volume 12 , Number 4

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The challenges of measuring social change are well known – the complexity of the process, the length of time involved, the difficulties of attribution. One key issue that has been neglected, argues guest editor David Bonbright in his introductory essay to this Alliance special feature, is who does the measuring and whose perspectives are taken into account. Another key issue is how the different systems of evaluation imposed by donors affect grantees; this is one of the main questions posed in a special online survey commissioned by Keystone and Alliance.

The special feature also includes interviews with Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest on how we get good information into the public domain and with Swedish industrialist Percy Barnevik on his use of business-style metrics in running an NGO.

The feature ends with the reflections of our second guest editor, Akwasi Aidoo.
The December issue of Alliance will also include Bill White on what’s missing from the climate change discussion and Barry Gaberman asking if there’s still room for charity in philanthropy.

Guest Editors' Article

Making social investment decisions – What do we need to know?

1 December 2007
David Bonbright

This article is an attempt to chronicle the emergence of a new generation of concepts, tools, platforms and organizations designed to measure quality social change work. To give away the end of the story, it turns out that the trick to getting impact measurement right at ‘the organization’ is to move out of the organization into the larger ecosystem in which the organization lives. When you do this, you can set measurement and reporting standards …

 
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Editorial

Measuring impact: who counts?

When one starts thinking about measuring impact, one seems inevitably to be pulled in two opposite directions. On the one hand, there’s the demand for ‘metrics’. This demand often comes from those working with donors, who are said to be looking for measures analogous to those available to people thinking to invest in the mainstream stock market. The claim made is that if we had better metrics, a functioning philanthropy marketplace, donors would be prepared to ‘invest’ more – the sort of claim that is often made by those promoting transparency and accountability. The image here is releasing a floodgate …

Special feature

Letters

Unravelling the P word

Iain Hines

Steven Burkeman’s article Beyond verbal confusions (September 2007) got me thinking about what ‘philanthropy’ means in New Zealand. In our …

A concerted effort on flying

Jenny Hodgson

I do think we need to think seriously about the amount of travel we undertake in this sector (see ?Flying …

Sceptical about terminology

David Brocklebank

Recent issues of Alliance have hosted quite a debate about the terminology we use to describe the sector we work …

Who’s for shiny new impact?

Dave Pitchford

I hope that Barry Gaberman is wrong in his assertion that the philanthropic community has bumped ‘transparency and accountability’ back …