In the realm of social impact measurement, data isn't just a tool; it's the bedrock of informed decision-making and a significant factor in acquiring financing or funds. A well-structured data strategy is your key to unlocking the insights that drive effective social impact management and reporting.
A strong data strategy requires a Theory of Change. If you don’t have one yet, you can get started with our blog post “how to create your Theory of Change”.
Here is our 5-step guide to making a thorough data strategy that enables social impact measurement and reporting.
It can be difficult and resource-heavy to document every aspect of your ToC. Therefore, choose the most relevant aspect to document internally in your organization and to your primary stakeholders. If your primary stakeholders are Municipalities, it might be more relevant to document employment data, rather than healthcare data, as the latter is relevant for Regions. If you are unsure what is relevant to your primary stakeholders - ask them. It can take your data strategy from good to great.
Pinpoint the metrics that align with your intended outcomes. These could include participation rates, changes in attitudes, shifts in community dynamics, amount of sick days, doctor visits or grades at school. Each metric should reflect an aspect of your Theory of Change, offering a direct line of sight to your social impact.
Describe the methods that you’ll use to gather the data. This could range from surveys and interviews to registrations, online platforms, and data partnerships. Ensure your chosen methods are practical, efficient, and capable of producing reliable results.
At Impactly, we comply with applicable and relevant requirements and laws, but if you choose to use other service providers or utilise somebody else’s data, make sure that you and the service providers comply with GDPR and all relevant privacy and data protection laws.
Detail how data will be collected, stored, and managed. Assign responsibilities for data collection, entry, and quality assurance. A well-organised process ensures data integrity and reduces the likelihood of errors. Furthermore, it’ll make the process more seamless, if potential challenges are addressed and sorted early on.
Regularly assess your data strategy’s effectiveness. Are you collecting the right data? Do you need more/new data to support your social impact goals? Is the chosen technology facilitating your goals? Adapt as needed to ensure your strategy remains aligned with your evolving impact objectives.
Now it’s time for you to create your own Data Strategy. Below you can find a template that we use when we collaborate with organisations.
Now, at this point you can choose to start setting up your data strategy, but there’s actually still one last piece of the puzzle missing. A piece that can make it easier for you to implement your data strategy.
Data collection can be time consuming, and if you need to move data between systems, it increases the risk of errors or losing data. At Impactly, we offer user-friendly software that centralises data collection, provides real-time insights on group and individual level, and enables you to easily report your impact. This can save you time and elevate your social impact measurement.
Besides providing a technology solution, we offer a scientific approach and the expertise to help you set up a data strategy. We’ve done it for multiple organisations, such as Mind Your Own Business, Løkkefonden and Viborg Kommune, which has allowed them to better measure, manage and report their social impact.
If you want help creating a measurable Theory of Change and data strategy, you can sign up for our Impact Workshop, where experts from Economists Without Borders and Impactly help you ensure that you can measure and report your social impact on people and society.