Hello everyone. There are over 70, 000 Social Enterprises in the UK intending to deliver social impact. This is great news but how are they measuring the effect they are having on the communities they serve? Evaluation of project processes and outcomes is crucial if strategies and tactics are to be refined to deliver the maximum social impact possible. Project Oracle has set out a universal framework which acts as a guide to what constitutes good evidence of impact, as you can see here.
All social enterprises are not the same of course and to demonstrate how a number of different projects might be evaluated we have identified four project scenarios and given an indication of possible outcomes that could be measured.
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A. Social Enterprise is focused on Education
In this example a social enterprise might have improving employability among teenagers through education as its focus. The aim of the project is therefore to better equip these teenagers for the world of work. Given this background some of the project outcomes that could be measured are listed below:
1. Increased student attainment achieving a qualification – Students go on to achieve higher examination grades.
2. Increased levels of self –confidence among students who participated in the project.
3. Students believe themselves to be more ready for work.
4. An improvement in the students’ relationships with their peers and families.
5. Decline in levels of absenteeism among target group.
 
B. Social Enterprise focused on homelessness in a particular town / city
In this scenario a social enterprise has reducing levels of homelessness as its desired social impact. Their focus can be seen in absolute terms – to reduce the numbers of people sleeping rough in a specific town or city. Useful metrics in this context would be those listed below.
1. A reduction in the number of people sleeping on the streets in the community targeted.
2. An increase in social inclusion i.e. less people feeling marginalised or on the fringes of society.
3. Poverty alleviation. The number of people without the means to survive i.e. food, shelter and clothing should be reduced.
 
C. Social Enterprise focused on Economic Empowerment for Women
Consider now a social enterprise created to deliver its social impact by increasing opportunities for women. It could take the form of a networking organisation or peer to peer mentoring group to give just two examples. What sort of metrics would be useful in this scenario?
1. Increased levels of economic equality of men and women.  Factors such as more businesses started by women and improved access to finance may form part of the criteria.
2. Improved self-esteem among target group. Women in the target group feeling more empowered and optimistic.
3. Increased self-belief. Belief among the group that they can plan and make changes in their lives – nothing is impossible.
4. Better access to employment and income-generation activities. The number of employment opportunities and entrepreneurial opportunities has increased.
5. Increased power over access to and control over financial assets. Women have increased access to finance whether through mainstream routes such as bank loans or via investor funding.
 
D. A Social Enterprise focused on Gang and crime prevention 
A social enterprise could also be focused on reducing levels of gang activity in a particular area or even as specific as on a number of housing estates. In this example useful measurement metrics would include those listed below.
1. An increase in social inclusion i.e. less people feeling marginalised or on the fringes of society and therefore vulnerable to recruitment by gangs.
2. An increase in the number of positive community interactions. At risk individuals recognise themselves as members of the local community.
3. Decrease of affiliation to gangs for people at risk. In absolute terms the numbers of at risk individuals affiliating with gangs is reduced.
 
There are other scenarios and other possible outcomes.  Our intention with this post was to give you an introduction to the subject of impact evaluation.  In researching this post we spoke with Impact Hub Westminster members from Project Oracle
 
We hope you have found this information useful. You can let us know by tweeting @hubwestminster or emailing us via hello@hubwestminster.net
 
Best wishes,
 
Impact Hub Westminster Team
 
*Project Oracle is managed by The Social Innovation Partnership.