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Perspectives on social impact measurement and non-profit organisations
journal contributionposted on 2016-02-01, 00:00 authored by Michael PolonskyMichael Polonsky, S Landreth Grau, Sharyn McdonaldSharyn Mcdonald
– Acknowledgement of the social impact created by organisations has become an increasingly frequent discussion among practitioners. The importance of such value creation cannot be understated, yet in an increasingly competitive funding environment, the need to articulate “true” value is paramount. The purpose of this paper is to examine how Australian and US managers of non-profit organisations (NPOs) and foundations view the measurement of the social impact of NPOs.
– The paper includes 19 in-depth interviews of non-profit professionals in the USA and Australia. Respondents included non-profit managers, foundation managers and consultants in both countries.
– The in-depth interviews found that in both countries respondents generally agreed that objective measures of impact are desirable, but recognised the difficulties in developing objective assessment frameworks enabling comparisons across the non-profit sector. These difficulties, as well as the implications for developing assessments of social value for NPOs, are discussed. This paper demonstrates that there is an opportunity to reposition reporting expectations. The NPO sector can pool together and build on each other’s strengths and market their outcomes as a collective entity. A sector-wide approach provides potential for much needed within-sector mentoring and will showcase the rich and varied outcomes generated by NPOs.
– This research compares viewpoints in two Western countries, thus offering at least an exploratory examination of social impact assessment from an international perspective. Additionally, this research shows commonalities in terms of what is valued and what is most difficult for non-profits when determining social impact.