Impact Measurement

What is Impact?

The term “impact” refers to a significant change caused by an action, event, or situation, on the lives of people or the environment. The impact can be economic, environmental, or social, short-term or long-term. It may be felt immediately or after a long period of time, and it is culturally and contextually dependent.

In a world where policy is shaped by sustainable development, impact measurement is the compass that helps decision-makers in organizations, companies, and countries to allocate resources wisely and navigate toward a future compatible with global environmental, social, and economic goals.

What Is Impact Measurement?

Impact measurement is a process that enables the evaluation of an initiative’s benefits according to its intended goals, objectives, and results. An initiative can yield an economic benefit, such as creating quality jobs; it can aim to achieve social or environmental goals, such as shortening commute time, or alternatively, reducing air pollution in the area; and other initiatives can have mixed goals—economic, social, and environmental. Its activity may target specific audiences or regions and sometimes influence society or the environment at large. We evaluate the economic benefits of an initiative using metrics for measuring the return on investment (ROI), and evaluating the beneficial social and environmental effects using metrics for measuring the social return on investment (SROI).

Systematic and continuous impact measurement allows us to determine the initiative’s effectiveness, detect issues that require improvement, and make informed decisions for future investment. As an essential step  in the impact management process, analyzing the findings leads to insights that enable more efficient use of resources and inputs that will lead to a more significant future impact.

How do we measure impact?

Impact measurement is a structured process composed of the following steps:

Step 1: Impact Strategy

Impact strategy is our plan of action, and its goal is to clarify how the initiative will lead to an actual, effective, and sustainable impact. One widely accepted method for designing such reality-altering processes is the Theory of Change. This method includes four built-in stages that map the chronological sequence of the desired change and outline the most effective way to achieve it.

A theory of change is written backwards, from end to beginning. We start by describing the reality that the initiative seeks to create in the long term. From that description we derive the stages required for achieving it: the desired results among the target audience, the short-term immediate outputs, and finally, the initial investment required to establish the initiative.

In practice, each stage in the theory of change presents us with a question, and the answers to these questions serve as a control measure that indicates whether we are on the right path to achieving a stable and long-term result:

  • 1
    What resources should we invest in order to establish the initiative?

    Investment in Biobeat, a company that enables patients to remotely monitor their vital signs at home.

  • 2
    What are the expected immediate outputs of the initiatives?

    Patients receive real-time professional medical advice and treatment.

  • 3
    What will the reality of the target audience look like?

    Rapid and accurate medical response improves the medical condition of patients and even saves their lives.

  • 4
    What will be the long-term environmental, social and community-related impact?

    Widespread use of remote medical monitoring systems saves time, effort, and workload in hospitals, leading to significant savings in healthcare budgets.

Menomadin Foundation’s impact report details the theories of change for many and diverse impact initiatives.

Step 2: Measurement Method

After we have defined the strategic process that will lead to our intended impact, we choose the indicators by which we can evaluate its achievement. Universal international measurement methods provide an agreed-upon specification of social, environmental, and economic indicators to achieve the various goals that form an accepted and comparable international standardization. In cases where the practiced measurement methods do not apply, we can create customized indicators for a specific initiative and a particular need.

We usually combine goals and indicators from different sources:

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The 17 UN stated SDGs are a framework for promoting global economic, social, and environmental development. The SDGs refer to challenges such as poverty and hunger, challenges in health and education, and challenges that deal with environmental impact and social justice. No less than 169 sub-goals were derived from these SDGs, each with 1 to 4 quantifiable indicators for measuring progress toward them.

For example, for our Sewing for All initiative, a vocational sewing training for under-served women in Angola, we have determined poverty eradication (SDG number 1) as one of the initiative’s goals. To evaluate progress toward achieving this goal, we use indicators: the change that occurred in the participants’ income, and the change that occurred in the participants’ access to health, education, and welfare services. These indicators allow us to evaluate the program’s effectiveness and the impact it produces.

IRIS+ Metrics

IRIS+ is a system that offers reliable and comparable impact indicators for measuring, managing, and optimizing a wide variety of initiatives. The Global Impact Investments Network (GIIN) administers this system, which is easy to operate and available to the public at no cost.

In the A’alam initiative, an intervention program to promote Israeli-Druze civic leadership, we use IRIS+ indicator number 356 to measure participants’ placement rates in positions of influence in the Israeli public service.

Custom Metrics

In cases where the practiced and standard indicators for measuring a specific impact goal do not suffice, we can define customized indicators to track progress toward achieving that goal.

In the Tamar Golan Gallery, an initiative promoting local art in Angola, we defined the “proportion of artists who pursue a career in the arts after exhibiting at the gallery” as an indicator of the initiative’s impact depth.

Step 3: Data Collection 

Data collection is the process by which we obtain the information we need to measure the impact. The data can be quantitative or qualitative, objective or subjective, and collected from different sources, such as self-reporting of the targeted audience, findings collected by management, or emanating from reports and publications of research institutions or government bodies. Generally, the more types and sources of data we combine, the less the risk for errors and the more accurate the picture we receive.

Data collection starts with a baseline measurement, carried out before the initiative begins in order to enable comparison. Sometime after the initiative has begun, an interim measurement is carried out, and the final measurement is carried out with the initiative’s conclusion or after a prolonged, predetermined period.

Step 4: Findings Analysis and Conclusions

The path that began with the formulation of impact strategy and continued with choosing measurement method and data collection leads to measuring the initiative’s impact through findings analysis and conclusions. This step presents the direct results measured among the initiative’s target audience, be they the participants of an intervention program or service consumers, and the indirect results, including the impact on regional residents or the state’s national product.

At the Menomadin Foundation, we chose to base our impact measurement on the Impact Management Platform (IMP)—one of the commonly practiced methods for measuring and evaluating social and environmental impact. The IMP was originally intended for impact investments measurement, but we have developed metrics that build on the IMP and enable us to measure strategic philanthropy initiatives. The uniform indicators allow us to compare initiatives of a particular type of activity and initiatives of different types.

How Does the IMP Model Work?

The IMP model defines five dimensions, each divided into 2 to 4 sub-categories whose impact may be intentional or unintentional, positive or negative. The average score across all sub-categories reflects the overall impact score for the initiative.

Impact Measurement: Not an Exact Science… Yet

Although the field of impact management is developing rapidly, an accurate methodology for impact measurement has not yet been developed. Measuring broad and abstract processes such as social, economic, or environmental change is highly complex, especially if the data relies upon subjective information derived from the personal experience, feeling, and interpretation of an evaluator. Added to this is the fact that the actual impact of such an initiative might manifest even years later. Additionally, economic, social, and environmental initiatives may greatly differ from one other, making crafting a uniform measurement scale suitable for all a particularly complex task.

However, this is a process. As a foundation established with the purpose of making the world a better place, we are proud to take an active role in this significant global effort to develop impact research and measurement methods. Through continuous monitoring, learning, updating, and persistent improvement of the social, environmental, and economic initiatives in which the Menomadin Foundation is involved, and through working closely with public institutions, private companies, non-profit associations, and governments, we are constantly striving to develop solutions that will enhance the journey to advance this crucial field.

What is Impact?

The term “impact” refers to a significant change caused by an action, event, or situation, on the lives of people or the environment. The impact can be economic, environmental, or social, short-term or long-term. It may be felt immediately or after a long period of time, and it is culturally and contextually dependent.