Pin Down to Know: What’s Right Approach to Impact Assessment

According to recent figures of the Central Bureau of Investigation, as of 2019, India has around 30 lakh NGOs that lack proper funds & research capacity to measure their work effectively and it’s impact, which in turn lead to a lack of knowledge about their work. On further research, CSR funding organizations do not have a uniform mechanism to induct NGOs’ performance cost-effectively.

Obtaining reliable and relevant information through research and acts as bridging the NGO-funder gap as well.

Below are a few measures that accelerate success:

1) Social Innovation is a complex and ambitious undertaking than technical or business model innovation, as it requires sector-wide collaborations and a greater understanding of social issues.

When supporting a CSR program, companies invest resources such as funds, expertise, employee time and products, etc to generate specific social outcomes, but in the social innovation process, diverse organizations are united around a shared vision of a system that might be inherently flawed. Collaboration across firms and their boundaries is distinct in creating a certain impact on CSR or NGOs’ non-profits activities.

The best example we can discuss here “ACT foundation.” Their collision of innovation and social impact. Their strategy is drawn as to best for pursuing a clear and articulating of social innovation.

2) Qualitative & Quantitative measurements – Although both indeed required to measure the efficacy of the data. While quantitative data provides impact information on the scale whereas qualitative information provides insights into the depth of change. It is important for NGOs & donors to mutually define the impact indicators for a CSR program.

3) Process of evaluation & End productProcess of undertaking an impact evaluation is as important as the end product, i.e. the final product. Articulating a theory of change in any CSR program about “how” and “why” for a program will lead to the desired impact. It also helps the company or NGO to understand the assumptions underlying in the program before the implementation begins.

However, Evaluation does not end with the assessment/final report. Both internal and external evaluation assessment brings a fresh perspective & benchmark performance of a CSR program/activity.

Busting the myth on impact metric assessment:

  • One of the most commonly cited hurdles to impact metrics (of either CSR or NGO) is the assumption that it is expensive. While certain other methods are more resource-intensive than others. Implementing a real-time monitoring system helps companies and NGOs track down their projects & progress.
  • Many NGOs and companies typically argue that given limited resources, they would rather invest money on programs or the impact assessment takes away focus from beneficiaries than evaluation. It’s not true, investing in impact metrics is akin to a company investing in markets & consumer research. These investments often provide pointers to improve efficiency which may reduce cost or improve the delivery process.
  • Often companies or NGOs do not think about the impact evaluations while designing or conceptualizing the program. The impact can be measured only when the program is alive for a period, to understand & attribute the changes in the activity. It will be crucial to start thinking about the metrics and frameworks at an early stage of design & concept.

Final words…

Current trends within CSR are encouraging regards to measure impacts. In this present environment, we can see a definite change in the way of companies and donors approaching their CSR strategies & activities, taking initiative by doing within some of the largest companies in India, indicating the rise of professionals & business heads leading high impact through CSR programs.