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Social impact assessment and return on investment (SROI)

Social impact assessment is one of our core services. What is corporate social investment or impact investment without measurement? The goal of impact assessment is to drive improvements that increase the value of programmes and investments for the people they serve.

Next Generation’s impact assessments consider:

  • Individual programmes
  • Investment portfolios
  • Sector-specific focus areas

It determines the social impact and return on investment for:

  • Individuals
  • Communities
  • Development sectors
  • Investors

An impact assessment is a tool to help organisations with:

  • Better planning
  • More effective investing
  • Bringing initiatives to scale
  • Facilitating organisational learning
  • Establishing accountability
  • Maintaining stakeholder communications
  • Allocating scarce resources
  • Managing risk

Are you looking for impact indicators? A survey? A template? The good news is that there are some out there. The bad news is that it’s unlikely to aid responsible investing. The key lies in the interpretation of the performance data. At Next Generation Consultants, we determine development impact with a specialised tool.

Our Investment Impact IndexTM provides:

  • Validation of investment decisions
  • Data to improve financial and programme management
  • Guidance for future strategies
  • Information on low-yield development and investment practices

This index is the result of many years of experience. Since 2009, we have assessed more than 700 programmes. The combined value comes to more than R3 billion. This includes projects across all investment and development sectors, for example health, enterprise, education and sports development. We have identified more than 25 dimensions of impact and return on investment. We have a library of more than 700 indicators, quantitative as well as qualitative.

A few things we’ve learned:

  • Any input resource can be measured, e.g. books, wheelchairs, schools.
  • All programmes have impact, but not all impact is positive.
  • Sustainable programmes consider many dimensions, including the economy, society, the environment and impact over time.
  • One size does not fit all. Monitoring and evaluation are not the same. Impact assessments should be tailored to each project and consider the depth, width, reach and scale of impact.
  • “Change” is difficult to measure. Understanding it takes incremental effort and requires research, engagement and an in-depth understanding of context.
  • One project can have different results for different funders concerning impact and return on investment.
  • Impact and SROI are linked directly to the strategic objectives, as well as the outputs and outcomes of an initiative.
  • Desired impact and return must be determined upfront from the development of the theory of practice, as well as the design of programme logic models.
  • Sustainability must be defined clearly and integrated in programme design, implementation and management.
  • All change is impact, whether intended or unintended, direct or indirect. Critically important negative impact is also impact and must be accounted for.

The benefit of CSI is only apparent when it’s measured. Improve your impact investment today.

Next Generation assists social and impact investors with their impact and return on investment assessments. We customise performance management processes and systems, we conduct impact and return assessments and we have the tools to report properly. We also offer training and case studies. Tailor better impact solutions and bolster your networks. Get in touch to find out more. In the meantime, here are further resources on social impact assessment.

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