Impact Measurement – A conceptual framework

347484441Tomorrow (5 Dec) in Brussels I will be presenting my views on the impact measurement discourse at a conference on “Measuring the Social Impact of Social Enterprises”. My approach will be to explore how to frame the discussion in the context of a market centric perspective as part of developing EngagedX – the world’s first financial index for impact investing. For the purposes of compiling an index, we are agnostic about specific metrics used and instead seek to determine a meta-framework approach for how to map and categorise the data of all metrics in use.

I welcome critique on my presentation below and look forward to your comments, please consider it as a “work in progress”. Best viewed in ‘fullscreen’ mode.

Original here:

In the end, I didn’t give this presentation. During lunch before the event the organisers became interested instead in EngagedX – the world’s first financial index for impact investing we are establishing. So instead, I presented this.

Conference info below, see original here:

Meeting of working groups
Social Economy, Social Cohesion and Local Development and Internal Market & Services

December 5th
from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
at the Chambers of Commerce and Industry Paris/Ile-de-France
41, avenue des Arts, bte 7 – B-1040 Bruxelles

On the subject of

Measuring the Social Impact

of Social Enterprises

Introduction by Nicole Alix presenting an analysis of “The Worth of the Social Economy” edited by Marie Bouchard (permanent chair of social economy research in Canada),

in the presence of representatives of the European Commission (DG Markt, DG Empl)


  • Ariane Rodert, EESC member
  • Karl Richter, joint chief executive of Engaged Investments and advisor on Social Impact Investment, Euclid Network
  • Bernard Bazillon, director of KPMG Social Economy, France
  • Agnès Hubert, advisor on employment and social policies, Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA), the European Commission
  • Alain Coheur, director of the Mutualité Socialiste-Solidaris
  • Marie-Christine Vergiat*, member of the European Parliament
*to be confirmed

Social entrepreneurship represents “new business models” that must “be reflected in the single market” (SMA I). “A social enterprise is an operator in the social economy whose main objective is to have a social impact rather than make a profit for their owners or shareholders.” (Social Business Initiative)

The Commission has decided that it “will develop a methodology to measure the socio-economic benefits created by social enterprises” andtheir impact on the community.” This method is intended to be “rigorous and systematic,” especially in its guiding of the European Social Entrepreneurship Fund and the Program for Social Change and Innovation (SMA II). Find here the expanded European texts.

The idea of measuring social impact is not new:

– For 20 years, cooperatives, mutuals and associations have developed specific evaluation tools for their type of enterprise (social balance sheet, cooperative review…) in order to apprise their stakeholders (above all, their members);

– Methods for demonstrating social impact on a society have emerged: measuring intangible goods, the social return on investment…all piloted by measurement specialists and accounting experts; and furthemore, new terminology is emerging (“impact economy”, “positive economy”…).

The outline for “social enterprises” extends beyond status (cooperatives, mutuals, associations or foundations) and fiscal regime (non-profit), European legislators are now searching for “functional” identification criteria. Moreover, public demand is pressing for discriminatory labels.

We can, therefore, pass from the stage of experimentation to that of including social impact measurements into European and national legislative texts. This is a strategic move because:

-One one hand, systems for evaluation are never neutral, crossed by specific social relations (Marie Bouchard, The Worth of the Social Economy); labels convey a logic of regulation by the market and not by States (Jacques Defourny, Marthe Nyssens);

– On the other hand, the resulting dispositive will draw a framework for social enterprise activity for the next 10 to 20 years, at the European and Member State level.

What reasoning underlies the measurement of a social enterprise’s impact? For whom and for what purpose does it serve? How do we build on existing experience?

Will every social enterprise be approached in the same manner? How can the adopted evaluation tools influence the way social enterprises function? Which governance model do we adopt to create these dispositives?

The debate will be held in English and in French. No translation will be available.

Please register with Christopher Flynn, tel: +32 2 213 62 72,

Nicole Alix, Responsable of the group Social Economy, Social Cohesion and Local Development, Confrontations Europe

Carole ULMER, Director of Studies, Confrontations Europe


One thought on “Impact Measurement – A conceptual framework

  1. LCMP Community Interest Company is paying great attention to this study Monsieur Richter, any information on quantifying ‘typical’ social outputs in Midlands, UK is invaluable currently.

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