September 30, 2010
For anyone who seeks to maximize social change—investors, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs alike—assessing the social impact of a given project is an important aspect of strategic planning. It can help to determine whether goals are being met, if a project is ready to be scaled up, and provide a sense of accountability. However, due to the diversity of the field, determining how to go about assessing a project can be difficult, even controversial. How can you measure to what extent you change lives, particularly when there are such diverse ways to go about doing so?
To respond to these concerns, the Foundation Center has launched a new database: Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact (TRASI). Developed in conjunction with McKinsey & Company, and with additional input from experts in the field, TRASI contains over 150 approaches to measuring and analyzing social impact for programs and investments, collected in a single searchable database.
These tools have been authored by social investors, foundations, NGOs, microfinance institutions, and others in the field who seek social change. Besides the assessment tools, the web portal provides additional resources including videos, podcasts, articles, an experts section, and TRASI Community, a social networking site for connecting with peers.
I encourage all of you to spend a few minutes browsing TRASI and considering the available tools for assessing your organization's own social impact. McKinsey's Learning for Social Impact page is also worth looking over to get some additional perspective on the subject.