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Measuring impact: the best metrics and measures of all-time

Are you looking for ways to evaluate the effectiveness and progress of social and environmental initiatives? Then it is imperative to measure their impact. This article focuses on some of the most widely recognized and applied metrics and measures across various industries and sectors. These metrics enable organizations to gain valuable insight into their performance and drive positive change.

How to measure impact?

 The best way of measuring impact is to start by defining clearly what you want to achieve and what your objectives are. Next, identify the metrics and indicators that will help you monitor your progress. Gather data by surveying, interviewing, or observing.

Impact measurement involves understanding how well your objectives are being achieved and requires analysis of the data. Analyze data quantitatively and qualitatively to derive meaningful insights. Use visualizations and reports to effectively communicate results to stakeholders. Assess and monitor the impact regularly to identify opportunities for improvement.

What is social impact?

An individual, an organization, or an activity’s impact on the well-being of a society is called a social impact. Various actions and initiatives can lead to a wide range of outcomes, both positive and negative. Education, healthcare, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, and more are all examples of social impact. It involves solving social problems, promoting equality, and making things better.

How to measure social impact?

Indicators like quality of life, access to resources, and community involvement can be used as social impact measures. The following are some of the best social impact measures examples.

  • Social Return on Investment (SROI):

Organizations use SROI as a measurement of how much social value they generate through their activities. By expressing the impact in monetary terms, it incorporates both financial and non-financial outcomes. It helps organizations prioritize investments and allocate resources effectively by providing a holistic view of the social value created.

  • Social Cost-Benefit Analysis (SCBA):

Using SCBA, a project or program can be evaluated for societal benefits and costs. Improvements in health outcomes, crime reduction, and enhanced community well-being are considered tangible and intangible factors. Based on cost-effectiveness, SCBA allows decision-makers to evaluate the overall social impact.

  • Social Progress Index (SPI):

In SPI, we measure both the basic needs and the opportunities of citizens in society. Multiple dimensions are included, including basic human needs, well-being foundations, and opportunity. In addition to identifying areas for improvement, SPI provides organizations with a comprehensive understanding of social progress.

How to measure the environmental impact

To effectively assess the environmental impact, it is essential to utilize appropriate matrices and measures. Following are some of the best measures and matrices for gauging the environmental impact.

  • Carbon Footprint:

Carbon footprints measure how much greenhouse gases an individual, organization, or product produces. Climate change is quantified, and opportunities for reducing and mitigating emissions are identified. Organizations can drive sustainability efforts and reduce global warming if they calculate and monitor their carbon footprints.

  • Water Footprint:

Water footprints measure how much freshwater is used to produce goods and services. It takes into account both direct water consumption and supply chain water requirements. Identifying water-intensive processes, optimizing water usage, and conserving this resource is easier when you understand the water footprint.

  • Biodiversity Impact Assessment (BIA):

BIAs assess the impact of a project on biodiversity, including habitat loss and species extinction. Organizations can use it to minimize their negative ecological impacts and understand the consequences of their actions. Biodiversity conservation and sustainable development are intertwined.

Nonprofit impact measurement

Measuring nonprofit impact is easy with impact measurement matrices. The effectiveness of several matrices for measuring nonprofit impact has been recognized. An example of a matrix is the Logic Model, which shows how inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes, and impacts relate. Another notable matrix is the Social Return on Investment (SROI), which quantifies the social value created by a nonprofit. Nonprofits can use these matrices to be more informed about their work and drive positive change by better understanding and communicating the true impact of their work.

Measuring the impact of social enterprise

To effectively assess the impact of social enterprises, it is essential to utilize appropriate matrices and measures. Following are some of the best impact measures and matrices for social enterprises.

  • Social Impact Assessment:

Social Impact Assessments (SIAs) evaluate the social, economic, and environmental consequences of social enterprises. By doing so, it helps identify and measure how things affect individuals, communities, and society. Social enterprises can benefit from SIA’s insights into effectiveness and sustainability.

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

An organization’s KPIs help them assess their performance and impact. There are different indicators for different organizations based on their objectives and sector. KPIs could be based on how many people are reached, how many jobs are created, how much carbon is reduced, or how much education is improved. You can track KPIs to see how social enterprises are doing.

  • Theory of Change (ToC):

Social enterprises use the Theory of Change to articulate their desired social impact and pathways to get there. You can use it to figure out how activities and interventions lead to specific results. Social enterprises can measure their impact by mapping out the theory of change.

  • Impact Reporting:

Documenting and communicating a social enterprise’s social, environmental, and economic impact is impact reporting. Reports are made to highlight the organization’s accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned. Transparency and accountability can be demonstrated by sharing impact reports with stakeholders, investors, and beneficiaries.

Measuring impact of ethical business

Business performance can be assessed and evaluated ethically using matrices for measuring the impact of ethical practices. Organizations can use these matrices to measure their social, environmental, and economic impact. Businesses can improve their ethical practices and gain insight into their performance by utilizing these impact matrices.

  • TBLs (Triple Bottom Lines)

TBLs (Triple Bottom Lines) are one of the most common matrixes. Three key dimensions are used to evaluate business impact: people, planet, and profit. Social impact measures things like employee well-being, community involvement, and diversity and inclusion. Climate change, resource consumption, and waste management are all part of the planet’s dimension. Finally, the profit dimension measures things like revenue generation, cost efficiency, and financial stability.

  • GRI (Global Reporting Initiative)

GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) is another useful framework for measuring ethical business. Businesses can use this matrix to report their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts. Transparently reporting progress and identifying material issues is easy with the GRI framework.

  • The Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS)

The Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) matrix measures the social, environmental, and financial performance of impact investments. Businesses can use this matrix to quantify the positive impacts of their investments and align them with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Organizations can track progress, communicate impact to stakeholders, and enhance ethical investment strategies with the IRIS matrix.

  • The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)

Additionally, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) matrix focuses on assessing supply chain ethics. As part of this matrix, we look at labor standards, human rights, and environmental sustainability throughout the supply chain. Businesses can use the ETI matrix to identify areas for improvement, address risks, and promote fair and responsible sourcing.

Measuring business impact

Several matrices have been proven to be highly effective at measuring business impact. A Return on Investment (ROI) matrix, for example, determines the profitability of an investment by comparing gains to investments. Key Performance Indicator (KPI) matrices are also valuable for assessing performance against predefined goals. Further, the Balanced Scorecard matrix provides a comprehensive view of various business aspects, including financial, customer, and internal processes. Customer loyalty and satisfaction are also measured by the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Using these matrices, management can gain valuable insight into the performance of their company and make strategic decisions based on those insights.


A commitment to a positive impact on the environment and social issues requires organizations to measure their impact. Organizations can track progress, identify improvement areas, and drive meaningful change by implementing the right metrics and measures. The organization’s goals and objectives should be reflected in the metrics selected. All of these efforts will ultimately contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future.

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