Brief Explanation Introduction

Having defined your metrics, you should decide how you are going to record and keep track of them. 

A method of recording data and keeping track should then be built into your venture’s practice, so that you don’t have to scramble to find evidence at a later stage. Done well, the recording and monitoring of data should be relatively painless, but will pay huge dividends in terms of investor reporting and fundraising. 

The reporting of your metrics should be standardised into a template and something that you should publish regularly once you have sufficient data, on a website and/or to an annual report that you give back to investors and supporters. 

Case Study

For example, in our volunteer maths example, the venture would need to conduct an assessment of the maths level of students when they start, and compare that with their grades at the end of a specific period of time. To be strictly accurate, they should probably compare this with a control group of students who did not enrol in the classes. However, this may be a level of complexity beyond what is required (particularly during the early stages of your venture). Instead comparing your beneficiaries to the national average might be sufficient: Data shows a ‘23% improvement of grades, with 60% of students achieving C or higher, compared with a national average of 50%’ is often sufficient. 

Exercise

Go through the outputs and outcomes of your impact chain table, and give a precise method for measuring each one.  

How will you record and measure each of the outputs and outcomes?  

Will you need to commission a market study? How frequently? Who could conduct the survey?  

Do you have a control group (target beneficiaries whom you don’t serve) with whom you can compare your results? If not, can you compare your results against some kind of generic market survey, or other public information? (e.g. if 70% of prisoners re-offend within 3 years, SOS can use this statistic to compare its results even in the absence of a specific control group. It’s not as good, but in 99% of cases is sufficient). 

Do you have field workers who can record this data as they go, or each time they make a sale? How will you ensure that you get accurate and timely customer reporting? 

Tips

Funders will also have their own metrics, which they use to decide which ventures to invest in. A funder interested in job creation, for example, may be interested in supporting ventures that can help young people find work, and will be interested in how many young people on your program successfully get a job and stay in work afterwards. It can be tempting to start reporting on these metrics and steer your program towards this result in order to get that funding (mission capture), but if this is not what your program is primarily about, we recommend not to pursue funding for the sake of it.  

However, you should be resistant to blindly adopting the metrics or requirements of funders simply to unlock some funding. Ventures that have not decided their own success metrics can too easily be blown off course unless they are absolutely clear about what they are aiming for, and resolute in avoiding funding that takes them in a different direction. 

Many ventures working with youth, for example, whose purpose is less exact than job creation or improvement in grades (improvement in student self-confidence or leadership ability, for example) sometimes fall into the trap of going for metrics that don’t really reflect their Mission. As a result, they end up undertaking work that is secondary to what they really want to do. 

Be aware also that many funders use social investment metrics designed for portfolios of similar ventures. An impact fund for employment for example might have as its global metric how many new jobs were created by its investments. Such a fund will evaluate each and every potential investment on this basis. This portfolio metric may not be appropriate for your venture. An entrepreneur can push back on this and still be eligible for the fund – this could be part of your negotiation with an investor. 

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