Social Impact Measurement: Impact Management Project’s Five Dimensions
Written by: Jasmine Smith
Last week 180 Degrees Consulting Waterloo was very fortunate to have Dima Alashram present a workshop on Impact Measurement. One of the frameworks she introduced was the impact management project’s (IMP) five dimensions for measuring impact.
Why is measuring impact important?
Many of the nonprofit organizations that we work with exist to make an impact in their communities and the world. Knowing the impact that they create can help them set goals, develop new programs, secure funding, and ensure they are making the positive impact they intend to make.
What are the five dimensions of impact as explained by the IMP?
Why is this framework so interesting?
When we think about social impact we often think about how to quantify it. We want to see numbers like we saved X lives or we served Y children. But in a world where we are constantly overwhelmed by numbers and data, it’s hard for us to understand what that means!
This framework is so powerful because it creates context for the impact that is being created. When we start to look at the five dimensions coming together we can start to understand the impact and connect to the organization’s missions.
One of the pieces of the IMP framework that stood out is under the first dimension — What?
The IMP’s framework outlines three questions for the first dimension:
- What outcome is occurring in the period?
- Is the outcome positive or negative?
- How important is the outcome to the people (planet) experiencing them?
When we look at measuring social impact we often focus on the positive outcome. An example of this could be providing shelter to those in need.
But an interesting question here that provides context and allows for connection is
“ How important is the outcome to the people experiencing it?”
Although we might not be able to quantify importance, what we can do is relate to it. Explaining the impact through this lens is a great way to get people to both understand and connect with the organization. This data can often be collected from those experiencing it or conducted through external research.
Describing the positive outcome plus the importance allows for a clearer understanding of the impact. We then back this up with the other dimensions by adding the who (stakeholders, location), how much (scale, depth, duration), contribution, and risk; and we can see the bigger picture of the impact of an organization.
If you are interested in learning more about the framework checkout the Impact Management Project.