Why is measuring social impact so challenging?

On the 24th January I will be chairing a debate about the Challenge of Measuring Social Impact at Hub Westminster.

There has been a lot of discussion and numerous reports written about the value of measuring social impact but alongside this are many challenges. What is social impact, how can it be measured and does it influence funding decisions? If the major funders worked more collaboratively would this help small organisations with limited resources be more successful in funding applications? Controversially whilst the focus has been on charities and social enterprises demonstrating their social impact should all publicly funded bodies including central and local government and universities be required to show how their activities are adding social value?

Social investors state that measuring the impact of the products or services is just as important as increasing the capacity of an organisation to actually deliver the product or service, but what does this mean in practice?

How are organisations developing the evidence that a particular product or service is having a positive impact, to ensure that what is being funded is making a difference?

This debate invites a range of speakers involved with social impact to contribute a 5 – 10 minute presentation followed by an open debate with the audience. We are encouraging all of the panelists to post their thoughts and share good resources before the debate.


Indy Johar is an architect and co-founding director of 00:/, Hub Westminster and most recently the A-Fund. His current work is focused on practially prototyping & designing the new economics of place and 21st Century institutions. Indy was a founding Director of the global Hub Association and co-founder of Hub Westminster. He is an associate of the think-tank Demos and a fellow of Respublica. Indy is a co-author of the ‘Compendium for the Civic Economy’. He has written for many national and international journals on the future of design, social venturing and practice. @indy_johar

Pathik Pathak is Director of Social Enterprise Research Network at the University of Southampton. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a regular commentator on social economy both in the UK and India for The Guardian, The Hindustan Times and the Times of India. Prior to his appointment at Southampton he ran a successful social enterprise in Mumbai. He is currently working on a research project on social impact assessment among early stage social entrepreneurs. @pathik10

Sam Matthews is Acting Chief Executive Charity Evaluation Services
For over 10 years she has been the organisation’s senior expert advisor on quality management in the third sector. She is a co-author of the PQASSO quality standards used by over 14,000 organisations within the UK and abroad. PQASSO now offers a nationally recognised external accreditation award. Sam has worked with a wide variety of organisations to develop quality management practice, and is the author of a number of bespoke quality standards and assessment tools. @CESonline

David Floyd is Managing Director of Social Spider CIC, a small social enterprise based in Walthamstow, East London. He writes the leading enterprise blog, Beanbags and Bullshit -http://beanbagsandbullsh1t.com/ – and also writes the ‘Mythbuster’ column for The Guardian’s Social Enterprise Network. David is a trustee of Voluntary Action Waltham Forest and Urban Forum, and a fellow of the RSA and the School for Social Entrepreneurs. He is a member of the governing council of Social Enterprise UK. @davidsocialsp

Joe Ludlow is Impact Investment Director at Nesta. He joined Nesta in 2010 to lead its work on social venturing and investment, and launched Nesta Impact Investments a £25m early stage investment fund for social ventures in October 2012. Nesta Impact Investments has a particular focus on the use of evidence in assessing the impact of ventures. Joe has been active in impact investment since 2005, previously working at CAF Venturesome. @joeludlow

I want to involve a wider audience in exploring the issues around implementing social impact measures. Please feel free to share your questions for the panel and useful resources using the Twitter hashtag #hubmsi


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