While measuring social impact is obviously important for the grantmakers, investors and enterprises who seeking to maximize positive impact, few funders seem willing to pay for this data as a customer. Rick Jacobus of CoMetrics, a Heron investee, launched an investigation into the different business models addressing the impact data issue and the difficulties they face in securing a client base given the discrepancy between the data needs of social enterprises and their funders.
Overwhelmingly, my interviews pointed to a single problem holding back development of the whole sector in numerous ways. Stated simply, the problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of what value social impact data can provide and who is most likely to benefit from (and ultimately pay for) that value.
The four main conclusions Jacobus draws are that:
Jacobus also notes five ways people can find value in this kind of social impact data: science, investment decision making, differentiation, program design, and program implementation. He stresses the immense challenges in using these sources to meet the needs of today’s interested parties.
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This post was prepared by Katherine Blum.