Fundraising organisations are under increasing pressure to measure, manage and report their social impact. While “impact” has established itself as a prominent object of accountability, organizations often struggle with defining, measuring, and reporting it. Addressing this challenge in a recent publication, Yang, O’Leary & Tregidga (2021) discuss “social impact” as a potential “Hembig”, i.e., a hegemonic, ambiguous, and big concept, on the rise. This leads to a somewhat paradoxical situation for both practitioners and researchers where the term “social impact” appears as omnipresent and omnipotent in the contemporary discourse on fundraising and other types of organizations while, at the same time, being perceived as too broad and vague to convey meaning (both internally and externally) and guide actions unambiguously. So how do or can organizations deal with this situation? In other words, how do they try to tame the “social impact beast” and what challenges do they experience when trying to do so? Addressing this question, I will draw in my presentation on ongoing research I am conducting together with my colleagues Roel Boomsma (The University of Sydney) and Yao Cai (Stockholm School of Economics) and provide insights from empirical studies on social impact measurement and reporting.
The presentation will provide you with insights into the state-of-the-art research on social impact measurement and reporting and some inspiration for how to tackle these challenges.