Businesses love measurement. It is often said that ‘you cannot manage what you cannot measure’.
Therefore, a large part of any manager’s job is devoted to target-setting, reporting on Key Performance Indicators, assessing return on investment, looking at analytics, and conducting appraisals of one kind and another.
Non-profits and other social organizations normally tended to shy away from metrics like this. They placed a greater premium on good intentions and activities, and raising broader awareness of important social issues. For organizations with a social mission, as long as they did more, people and communities would be better. How do you measure both bad and good impacts in your business?
- Producing annual report
The most visible example of measurement in business is the Annual Report produced by public companies for their shareholders, which provides a snapshot of the financial health of the business alongside management outlook and commentary. Many charities and non-profits now produce a similar annual document featuring stories about the positive impact they have had as a result of their programmes.
These reports are often not representative of actual impact measurement. They may fulfill a necessary communications function, but are typically presented with the intention of reassuring their donors or investors that their money has been used wisely, and that they are generating positive results. Inevitably, organizations choose to feature the most encouraging stories and maintain a typically upbeat tone.
Why does this matter? For a start, those whose perspectives may be most important to elevate the ‘end beneficiaries’ of these social programmes and investments may want to know that their lives are better, and that the people who are working on their behalf are also partly accountable to them.
- Having a company’s impact data
It is also important to realize that measurement is not simply a technical or communications exercise. People and organizations will act differently when they have access to more or better impact data. Impact reporting should therefore not be viewed as an annual, static process; rather, it can be one that encourages ongoing and timely use of impact data to influence how people and organizations behave, and how norms and rules are set and enforced. It can play a part in helping people continually make better decisions for the common good.
In other to run a successful business with increase in demands, accountability and transparency around social sector the need for measuring the impact of an organization is needed.