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Impact Management: Creating Sustainable and Socially Valuable Outcomes

Impact Management: Creating Sustainable and Socially Valuable Outcomes

Impact Management: Creating Sustainable and Socially Valuable Outcomes

Impact management is a unique and valuable approach to creating sustainable and socially valuable outcomes for communities. With roots in the 1960s civil rights movement, and protests around issues such as banks investing in armament funds for the Vietnam War, it emphasises the importance of in spaces that prioritise social wellness. The modern realities of climate change and wealth inequality have pushed impact management into the mainstream, as a tool for businesses, governments, and organisations to consider how their work affect people and the environment.

What is impact management?

Put simply, it is the idea that your organisation should improve social and environmental issues alongside more traditional economic models for improvement. For example, an organisation focused on reducing youth unemployment might also ensure that the jobs young people secure are fulfilling and aligned with their career aspirations. This approach contrasts with traditional models that might only count the number of jobs created without considering job satisfaction or long-term career support.
The core of impact management is understanding the changes your organisation makes and using insights, data, and evidence to maximise positive change.

Key Players in Impact Management

Impact management involves various organisations and methodologies that support better social and environmental outcomes:

1. Advisory Organisations

Often these organisations have established their own methodologies for improving impact management, which they then offer to other organisations. Some key experts in this field include:
· Social Value International
· The Impact Management Project
· SDG Impact
· SoPact

2. Ethical Business Practices

Organisations like B Corporation evaluate and certify companies based on their social and environmental performance, diversity, and worker ownership These organisations will look at current practices in your organisation – such as how diverse your staff are, or how much of your business is co-owned by workers within the business – and give you a rating on how ethical your organisation is compared to other organisations of your type.

In recent years, government bodies and international entities – such as the United Nations and the European Union – have also become involved in creating benchmarks for the social and environment outcomes organisations should be working towards. These are often grouped in themes – such as preventing poverty, or empowering women – and ask that any actions your organisation takes fits within improving one of these outcomes. However, these usually provide goals and do not provide a framework your organisation can use to reach these changes.

Impact Management Frameworks

Effective impact management frameworks typically include the following key themes and processes:

1. Goals: Your organisation must have an ultimate goal that you are working towards improving for the community you work with

2. Understanding: Your organisation should understand all the components of the issue you are trying to solve, and the conditions that created it. Which of these conditions is your organisation focussing on?

3. Outcomes and impact: You must find out what effects your organisation has already had on this issue. What has the work you have already done in this area produced? Have you been producing the outcomes you have promised? This part of the review process will generally involve doing surveys, interviews, and data analysis with the community you would with, and the people most affected by your work.

4. Managing and maximising impact: From your above analysis, what do you need to change in your work in order to achieve the goal(s) you are aiming for?
5. And finally, what resources do you have in order to produce these results? Has your work not been producing good outcomes for your community because you do not have the resources to meet your goals? Adjust your goals accordingly.

Regularly revisiting this framework ensures your approach adapts to changes in resources, time, and goals.

The Value of Impact Management

Impact management ensures organisations are accountable for their outcomes and continually identify opportunities to create meaningful change.

“Value is often invisible because it relates to outcomes experienced by people who have little or no power in decision-making. [Impact management] help[s] organisations become more accountable for what happens as a result of their work, and means being accountable for more than whether the organisation has achieved its objectives – but it also means identifying opportunities to increase the value of activities and create meaningful change in people’s lives.” - Social Value International

Despite the complexity, the main goal of impact management is to provide a framework to measure and track your outcomes, ensuring long-term success. For organisations aiming to achieve better social and environmental results, impact management is an invaluable tool.

If your organisation is interested in using impact management tools, Social Value Aotearoa offers a range of resources for members.

Contact us at today!