5 key lessons from our ‘Measuring Social Impact’ course

by David McGlashan

I sat in recently on the latest iteration of ‘Measuring Social Impact’, a two day course at SSE run by Jenny Rouse of nef consulting.  It was a fascinating couple of days; I went into the course with very little understanding of what ‘Measuring Social Impact’ actually meant, but now feel confident that I could begin to put together an impact report for activities at SSE.

Here are 5 key things that I took from the course (the list would run to about 150 points if I included everything..!)

1.  Measuring social impact will allow your organisation to prove and to improveProving impact demonstrates to stakeholders (including funders) that what your organisation does is making a difference (or not). Measurement and evaluation will also enable your organisation to improve its impact by identifying areas of strength or weakness.


2.  Identifying and engaging with relevant stakeholders is absolutely key to impact measurement.  Without proper engagement of stakeholders, you can’t even begin to measure impact effectively.  It is important to know who are the relevant stakeholders and the best way to engage with them.


3.  Measure outcomes, not outputs.  An output only tells you that an activity has taken place, whereas an outcome is an indicator of change. Simply measuring outputs does not tell the whole story.  For example, distributing 25 mosquito nets (output) does not necessarily mean that will be a reduction of instances of malaria (outcome);  the malaria nets may never be used.


4.  Social Return On Investment (SROI) is a methodology which allows you to measure the financial value of environmental and social outcomes.  By establishing financial proxies for outcomes such as ‘reduced social isolation’, a monetary figure can be attached to your organisation’s impact and your organisation can demonstrate the return that it generates on investment (for example, each £1 spent generates £5 of social value).


5.  There is increasing demand for social impact training.  This was the fourth time that we have run the course, which continues to be popular. We’ve had participants from social enterprise start ups, national charities, housing associations and local government. A valuable part of the course was sharing experiences and learning from each other. There was some lively (but friendly!) debate too.  Hopefully the level of interest in the course continues!

Find details of the course Measuring Social Impact course on our website. 

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