Impact measurement survey reveals need for change

The clearest picture of impact measurement practices yet has been revealed by the results of a survey conducted during the summer.

Results from the wide ranging survey were unveiled at a session at the Good Deals conference in Birmingham today.

Although there was good news about both knowledge and practice of social impact measurement, there were several calls from respondents for more support from funders and concern about making the right choice when it came to measurement tools.

Social enterprises and charities are overwhelmingly in favour of impact measurement, with 81% of them reporting it as crucial or important to their business and the services they provide to achieve greater impact.

Of the 16 impact measurement tools mentioned in the survey, 67% of respondents had used one or more of them. Social Return on Investment emerged from the survey as the most widely recognised tool.

Only 2% reported finding impact measurement easy to do

Many practitioners reported finding the number of tools confusing and there were calls for standardisation and consolidation. Only 2% reported finding impact measurement easy to do.

Other key findings to emerge from the survey included calls for funders to be open to funding the resources required to do impact measurement and for the language around the subject to be more user friendly and jargon free.

Sarah Forster, CEO of The Good Economy Partnership, commented: "Impact measurement is just one part of the process of managing an organisation to maximise impact.  

"The survey results demonstrate the need to ensure impact measurement approaches are grounded in operational realities and maintain a focus on the people organisations aim to serve – so there is greater 'downward accountability' as well as 'upward accountability' to donors and investors.”

Respondents were largely from the UK (84%). Most people contributing their views worked at social enterprises and charities (74%) but a significant number of social investors (12%) were also represented in the findings.

The Social Impact Survey was produced by Buzzacott, Matter&Co and The Good Economy Partnership with support by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

A comprehensive report on the findings from the survey can be found in the latest edition of our magazine Pioneers Post Quarterly and a direct link is here.

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Photo credit: Gordon Wrigley