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Social Impact Measurement: a force for good or hindering progress?

Public Authorities increasingly want to assess their return on investment. Being able to justify to taxpayers why investments are made is after all good governance. It is also a fair argument that effective social impact measurement systems could help to ensure that innovative projects, which drive up quality, are funded ahead of other projects that promote less effective services.
Effective measurement systems usually focus on indicators such as quality of life, user involvement, connection to the local community and workforce development; rather than more limited indicators such as the number of jobs created or number of beds, etc.

The use of these more limited indicators explains why social service providers are often very critical of social impact measurement systems. Badly designed measurement systems are commonplace and can lead to pressured services becoming more selective and only targeting those who are easier/cheaper to support. More complex measurement systems also come with their own challenges as they generally require more administrative work; thus moving investment away from direct support for beneficiaries. A fine balance is needed.

EASPD has recently launched a call for tender for a researcher to further explore this theme: identify the trends, their impact on services and suggest building blocks for social impact measurement systems which would enable support services to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Deadline: 30th September. Send us your thoughts and spread the tender!

Thomas Bignal
Investment Policy Advisor