The #MEET4IMPACT project was initially announced in the February 2019 edition of Boardroom. Founded by Geneviève Leclerc, CMP, founder of Caravelle Strategies, along with several partners, this ambitious project aims to create an impact framework that offers support in social impact generation and measurement for associations and business events destinations.
One of the ultimate goals of “measuring” social impact is being able to show the entire value that an organizationis delivering to its beneficiaries, and ultimately to society at large. Because associations are social organisations and their mission is essential to their existence, having the capacity to report on how well that mission is being served provides the organisation with the proof that it is doing what it’s supposed to do. But when expanded intoa broader process, it can be a powerful management strategy to achieve operational excellence, improve processes and delivery, and demonstrate great governance by holding itself accountable for the outcomes it generates.
Through the #MEET4IMPACT initiative, we aim to empower our partners to consider impact as an end-to-end process which can be purposefully created, managed, captured, and communicated for value. This means supporting them throughout their journey from the initial impact goal setting to the identification of which stakeholders can assist with this goal; to making sure it fulfills the business objectives of enhancing its value proposition to funders and members; to determining what it should be measuring and how to do it; to providing the know-how and tools to register this and track it; to analysing the data collected and how to communicate it; to finally leveraging this data and knowledge to ultimately get greater clarity on how it should improve its programme and service delivery.
The measurement of societal impact will use “impact” as a currency by which the organisation will be able to report on its organisational effectiveness in carrying out its mission, in a similar way that one would report on financial results. To measure the societal impact of an activity, such as an event, the association will want to assess the economic, social, regulatory and environmental effects on the local host communities, on the event participants, and on its community of interest as a whole. This is typically done through three types of measurements: 1) demonstrating change, 2) monetizing change and 3) calculating indicators showing progress.
Initially, when demonstrating change, you have to evaluate outcomes against what was there before and benchmark on your own objectives. In many cases, this is the best way of reporting on impact when there are no metrics available, or when the change created by your actions can be observed but not quantified. By formulating a hypothesis of cause-to-effect relationship between your desired impact goal and the outcome (IF I do this… THEN this happens…), you can prove that you undertook the necessary actions and you can claim contribution to the impact being created. The “demonstrating change” method uses narrative to provide information about the value it creates.
Secondly, to monetize social change, you have to quantify the economic value of your action through generating an increase in well-being or in any other societal gain. In social impact, this is done mostly with the help of the SROI framework (Social return on investment), which basically attributes a financial “market value” to certain changes in social condition. SROI uses financial currency as a way of conveying the gain in value for society.
Finally, to calculate indicators, you have to compile quantitative metrics and compare these results over time or against others. This falls into the realm of data management and it implies that the organisation is ready to commit resources to data collection, compilation, analysis, and communication. The key to impact measurement is to be able to identify what data it should really be tracking and what value it will gain out of this. Social impact experts at #MEET4IMPACT have mapped out this process and they can help identifying what data capacity your organization has and what needs developing.
|How can you be a part of #Meet4impact?
We’re a global not-for-profit aiming to build a community passionate about social impact in our sector:
Keep looking out for more updates on social media following the #Meet4impact/ #Associations4impact/ #Cities4Impact keywords; visit www.meet4impact.global; or write to email@example.com to tell us your story.
One of the finest features of the #MEET4IMPACT project is the platform it will be rolling out this year. The comprehensive online tool that will be made available to #MEET4IMPACT partners will be both a community platform and a social impact management dashboard.
The platform will support organisations taking part in the project by allowing them to map their desired impact and select from a catalog of impact KPIs to create their own impact journey and dashboard; enter and visualize their data as it is being collected; and create visually attractive impact reports conveying powerful impact stories to a broad range of stakeholders – all from the same tool. Indicators from existing global impact frameworks and calculators will be built in and distributed in the areas of focus that we have selected for demonstrating social change in the business events industry, such as: knowledge transfer and research; innovation; community well-being; environment; policy; and many others.
The online platform will also enable partners to share their own journey with others on this path; exchange success and failure stories; and contribute valuable insights as everyone is collectively learning.
The #MEET4IMPACT team uses Design Thinking as a core principle of our methodology. Design Thinking was first coined in the 1960s by John E. Arnold but really came of age when it was adapted for business purposes by IDEO in California, who created a workable framework for it. Tackling a challenge with purpose and intentionality moves us into the discipline of design. Design Thinking has proven to be particularly effective when dealing with a big challenge and multiple stakeholders who want to create an impact; Design is about finding solutions drawing on intentionality and creativity.
The various steps proposed will guide you through a successful problem-solving process: 1) Frame a question; 2) Gather inspiration; 3) Generate ideas; 4) Make ideas tangible; 5) Test to learn; 6) Share the story.
Design thinking is deeply anchored in responding to a need and creating new value and is an ideal methodology to accompany an organisation on an impact journey. It’s a mindset of constant iteration and learning and as such, is an integral part of #MEET4IMPACT and how we create value for our partners.
Good storytelling is essential to conveying the real value created by your events and connecting with your audience in a meaningful way. We’re all born storytellers and crave for good stories; this is how humanity has constructed its sense of meaning since the dawn of time. Smart organisations know that their message will have more impact if they connect emotionally with their stakeholders. When talking about your impact efforts, storytelling is the new panacea to influence decision-making, and you can demonstrate the effectiveness of your actions most powerfully by incorporating both qualitative and quantitative information to enable a compelling and data-driven impact story. The #Meet4Impact platform and its experts will enable you to draw those elements together into an effective impact report and create a strong narrative on the positive social value you have generated.
What do we mean by social innovation? This telling quote from Social Innovation Generation evocatively reflects our mission: “Social Innovation… assumes a world where ultimate good in society can be not only imagined, but also created. It is an initiative or process that profoundly changes beliefs, behaviors, resource and authority flows of any ecosystem in the direction of greater resilience. Successful social innovations have durability, impact and scale.”
#MEET4IMPACT offers an entirely new approach in this sector… we’re trailblazers and so are our partners. Our objective is that #MEET4IMPACT be co-designed by the community and anchored in cross-learning and collaboration practices, and we believe that it can ultimately change the way business events define success in the future.By allowing our project to be built on an open innovation platform, adopting a “lean startup” mindset of rapid experimentation and iterations, and channeling collective intelligence to design our end product will ultimately, we hope, enable associations and other meetings sector stakeholders to become real agents of change in society.