Impact Measurement Working Group


As one of the largest working groups, the Impact Measurement Working Group is uniquely positioned to bring together diverse perspectives from nonprofit and community organizations, service providers, foundations, and sector-supporting social enterprises. These representatives meet to discuss one of the most fundamental questions of the nonprofit and philanthropy sector: how can we re-examine the role of impact measurement to ensure it serves beneficiaries and enables service providers to work more effectively? Members are interested in looking at impact measurement challenges from all angles, including capacity issues, disconnects between funders and service providers, incentives to compete rather than cooperate, and so much more!

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Recent Activity and Updates

March 2021 Meeting - Follow up and Next Steps

On March 9 of this year GivingTuesday and hosted the inaugural Impact Measurement Working Group meeting, bringing together a diverse group of sector leaders to discuss the key impact measurement challenges and opportunities in the nonprofit sector.

The sheer number of topics covered at the meeting highlighted just how broad the range of approaches, opinions, and areas of work are in this space. There is an extremely rich pool of ideas to draw from as we take steps to understand how to better measure impact - and beyond that - define the role impact measurement can and should play in the sector.

Clearly, much work is happening on this topic and much work remains to be done. GivingTuesday has therefore continued to work on identifying opportunities and gaps where we can contribute as an organization to creating new discussion spaces, enabling research into underexplored topics, and facilitating work on collective approaches.

Building on the discussion and momentum generated at the IMWG meeting, we have developed three areas of exploration that we believe merit closer reflection as we progress. These are the core topics as we see them, but we would love to hear from leaders and organizations with additional ideas and find ways to support them together. We look forward to convening in the near future around these more targeted questions.

  1. What are the systems-level interactions and effects of impact measurement information on donor behaviour? This is a key opportunity for collaboration because the net effects of impact measurement affects all sector stakeholders, no matter their role. Its importance as a topic stems from the fact that there has been much investigation into how impact measurement influences the behavior of donors at the granular level, but the discussion around incentivizing donor behavior often disregards the impacts on the system at an aggregate level, including potential suppression of giving. Creating a community of research practice at the systems-level is an important step toward improving our understanding of the implications and repercussions of impact measurement (and the conclusions drawn from its practice) for the entire ecosystem.

  2. What are the opportunities for systems-level capacity-building among organizations and for different communities, to be able to assess their systems-level impact? It would be of great value for the sector to collectively reflect on methods for exploring our aggregate impact and assessing the state of the sector. How can we create systems-level approaches for supporting communities and organizations that allow them to use measurement as a learning exercise rather than an evaluation or funding tool? How can we enable approaches to systems measurement that are rooted in the communities they are intended to serve, ensuring that these approaches are meaningful and applicable in those contexts?

  3. How can communities and proximate leaders take ownership and represent the interests of beneficiaries in the measurement and evaluation approaches of the programs and services that affect them? It was clear at the initial meeting that some voices of leaders from other countries and from local communities and contexts are missing from the discussion. We need to explore and identify ways to better create opportunities for these leaders to set the agenda and guide the discussion. It is important for us to consider how we can tweak (or even overhaul) our approach so that the purpose and goals of impact measurement align with the objectives of beneficiaries rather than institutions and funders.

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