The world is beset with enormous problems. And as a nonprofit, NGO, foundation, impact investor, or socially responsible company, your organization is on a mission to solve them.
But what exactly should you do? And how will you know whether it’s working? Too many people assume that good intentions will result in meaningful actions and leave it at that. But thanks to Marc Epstein and Kristi Yuthas, social impact can now be evaluated with the same kind of precision achieved for any other organizational function.
Based on years of research and analysis of field studies from around the globe, Epstein and Yuthas offer a five-step process that will help you gain clarity about the impacts that matter most to you and will provide you with methods to measure and improve them. They outline a systematic approach to deciding what resources you should invest, what problem you should address, and which activities and organizations you should support. Once you’ve made those decisions, you can use their tools, frameworks, and metrics to define exactly what success looks like, even for goals like reducing global warming or poverty that are extremely difficult to measure. Then they show you how to use that data to further develop and increase your social impact.
Epstein and Yuthas personally interviewed leaders at over sixty different organizations for this book and include examples from nearly a hundred more. This is unquestionably the most complete, practical, and thoroughly researched guide to taking a rigorous, data-driven approach to expanding the good you do in the world.
About the Author
Marc J. Epstein is Distinguished Research Professor of Management at Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. He has been a professor at Stanford Business School, Harvard Business School, and INSEAD. He is the author of twenty books and numerous academic and managerial articles. Kristi Yuthas is Swigert Endowed Chair at Portland State University’s School of Business Administration and has worked with companies and nonprofits around the world. She has authored over a hundred presentations and publications in sustainability, ethics, and the use of business tools to address social issues.
“Epstein and Yuthas make sense out of the often confusing world of metrics and performance measurement, offering investors, social entrepreneurs, and donors new perspectives on how to approach the challenge of measurement—and how to convert that challenge into an opportunity! They review a variety of approaches to metrics and give readers the skills needed to go from metrics as measurement to metrics as a tool for creating deeper, more sustained value. A must-have for all leaders serious about maximizing the impact of their organization and capital.” —Jed Emerson, Chief Impact Strategist, ImpactAssets
“This book is a great resource for anyone working to tackle today’s complex, global social challenges. Epstein and Yuthas help us ask the right questions, create meaningful measures, and adapt nimbly to test our biggest, boldest ideas and determine if they will deliver the right kind of impact.” —Steven J. McCormick, President and Trustee, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
“Too often, donors and investors think of social impact measurement as separate from the ‘real work’ of doing good. Epstein and Yuthas have developed a clear and practical guide to impact measurement—not just how to do it but how to think about it and integrate it into every aspect of your work. Essential reading for anyone looking to move from good intentions to high impact.” —Katherina M. Rosqueta, Founding Executive Director, Center for High Impact Philanthropy, University of Pennsylvania
“By posing the right questions and providing useful frameworks, Epstein and Yuthas take us on an absorbing voyage of the challenges and solutions available in the field of social impact measurement. The book is a valuable resource for investors keen to generate social impact in a thoughtful, rigorous, and transparent manner.” —Nalini Tarakeshwar, Executive Director, Evidence, Measurement and Evaluation, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, UK
“Whether your annual philanthropic contribution is $5,000 or $5,000,000, this book is a must-read to move people out of poverty faster! Epstein and Yuthas provide a unique balance of introspection and global insights to ensure that impact, scale, and sustainability are achieved.” —Deval Sanghavi, cofounder and Partner, Dasra Strategic Philanthropy Foundation, India
“Epstein and Yuthas provide a lucid and compelling framework—a logic model—for investors, civil society actors, corporate leaders, and policy makers to use resources more effectively and yield better social results.” —Rohini Nilekani, Chairperson, Arghyam
“This book is an excellent reference point for social impact investing. Epstein and Yuthas have meticulously researched an impressive cross section of companies, nonprofits, foundations, and individuals to build credible metrics and analytical tools, and they offer useful insights to maximize impact.” —Zarina Screwvala, Founder-Trustee, Swades Foundation
“Epstein and Yuthas offer a clear and highly accessible approach to measuring and creating social impact. Drawing on a diverse array of examples from around the world, they demonstrate that there are no quick fixes and that systematic measurement is essential.” —Alnoor Ebrahim, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, and author of the award-winning NGOs and Organizational Change “Measuring social impact is a topic at the top of so many agendas yet with so little real insight about how to make it real, actionable, and meaningful. Measuring and Improving Social Impacts is a practical guide for maximizing and amplifying impact. A must-read for those grappling with how to define and evaluate success.” —Paul Bernstein, CEO, The Pershing Square Foundation
“Although this looks like a thorough guidebook for people starting in the field of social change, it is likely to trigger considerable thinking among those who have been involved in philanthropy and the practice of social change for a long time. The desire to bring about social change is quite simple, but doing something about it can be quite complicated—this book helps you to simplify things to achieve your goals.” —Madhav Chavan, PhD, CEO, Pratham Education Foundation
“Measuring and Improving Social Impacts offers a useful and timely review of the many measurement approaches available to nonprofits, foundations, and impact investors. Epstein and Yuthas provide practical step-by-step guidance along with real-life stories that show how measurement is applied in action and leads to better results.” —Fay Twersky, Director, Effective Philanthropy Group, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
“A fascinating read . . . very valuable to corporate foundations like mine that are grappling with effectiveness at the foundation level and also understanding and measuring the added value for the corporation and its employees.” —Vidya Shah, CEO, EdelGive Foundation, Edelweiss Group, India
“A welcome addition to the literature…Highly recommended.” —Choice Named one of Sustainable Industries magazine’s Best Books of 2008
“An outstanding contribution to the field.” —Strategic Finance