For cause marketers, social impact measurement data is like teenage sex:
Everyone talks about it,
nobody really knows how to do it,
everyone thinks everyone else is doing it
so everyone claims they are doing it
This according to Kori Reed, who presented this month’s Cause Marketing Masters webinar, Measuring Cause Marketing Impact.
As VP, Cause & Foundation for ConAgra Foods, Reed found herself overwhelmed by the demands for data in her role – the jumble of terms from ROI to inputs, outputs, logic models and beyond. But filling a role that took money out of the business without generating direct income, she knew it was imperative to grab the data bull by the horns and learn to justify her impact investing to senior leadership (which would ultimately enable her to garner more resources for her work).
The typical way both nonprofits and corporate citizenship professionals default to measuring impact is to look at:
Inputs: What’s contributed? E.g. “We donated $10,000 to a summer food program.”
Outputs: What happens? E.g. “150,000 kids were provided a lunch.”
And, yes, measuring inputs and outputs is critical but Reed espouses that going beyond those metrics to address impact is even more critical. While inputs and outputs are simpler to measure, measuring impact asks, “What changes?” because of those inputs. Challengingly, social impact doesn’t happen overnight or even within a year. True change often takes time.
Developing the measurement muscle takes practice but Reed declares it imperative to establish credibility, securing more investments and future funding, generating story content and truly establishing business value.
If you’re where Kori was, swimming in a sea of confusion and overwhelm when it comes to measuring the social impact of your initiatives, this webinar is a must-watch. If you’re a CMF member, you know the drill: login to the website and click “Recorded Webinars” – it’s right at the top!