Setting social impact goals is a challenging but exhilarating task.
It can be challenging because the world is complicated and the ways we can affect it are just as complex. It’s exhilarating because it’s an opportunity to dream about how we want the world to be and then work toward making that vision a reality.
When setting social impact goals and objectives, nonprofits should consider both quantitative (measurable) and qualitative (unmeasurable) measures of success. This means that while you may not be able to measure how many children have access to clean water or how many people have been educated through your efforts, you can measure other things that will directly impact these outcomes.
For example, if one of your goals is to increase childhood access to education, consider how you can track the short, medium, and long-term success of your educational initiatives. What learning improvements did your program create? What kind of jobs did your students attain as a result of your efforts? How is your program breaking the cycle of illiteracy in your target area?
There are so many variables to account for, but it is paramount that you choose the right metrics that create the most significant social impact on your target audience.
How should social enterprises set social impact goals and objectives?
It’s important to remember that social enterprises are different than traditional businesses. They operate on different principles and likely have different goals.
Remember that your stakeholders (donors, employees, beneficiaries, volunteers, and board members) all depend on your organization’s ability to make a substantial social impact.
This means that clear goals and measurable objectives are paramount for your organization’s success.
How to approach impact-driven goal setting?
A useful first step for social enterprises is to create a Theory of Change model. This is an exercise that helps to clarify your enterprise’s long-term goals and day-to-day activities.
In short, the Theory of Change model illustrates the causal relationship between your employees’ daily activities and the long-term impact your organization creates.
The most important step in the Theory of Change model is to get hyper-clear on the long-term impact and use validated tools to measure that impact.
If you want to dive deeper into the Theory of Change, read this blog.
Secondly, you need to review your existing programs, products, and services and ask yourself if they align with your desired long-term impact. Is there a disparity between your long-term goals and the impact your organization actually creates? This step may require tough conversations and an unbiased view of your impact data.
Don’t be afraid of the data; embrace it. Data has a story to tell, and the sooner you embrace that story and learn from it, the sooner your organization can make a greater difference in society.
Finally, you need to create or amend social impact goals that can be easily tracked and measured. We recommend setting one-year, three-year, and five-year goals so that it’s easy to see how much progress has been made towards achieving them!
Our team of impact consultants and nonprofit consultants have many years of experience helping organizations massively scale their social impact without sacrificing the value they provide.