How to Define + Measure Social Impact

When measuring social impact, actions speak louder than words.


Nowadays, everyone wants to talk about social impact: helping society, making a difference, giving back to the community.

While the sentiment is admirable, without quantifiable results, it’s just a warm fuzzy feeling… with no actual improvement.

So what does successful social impact look like?

According to a recent how-to guide from America’s Charities, before one can measure success, there are questions companies must ask in order to define it.

These important questions include but are not limited to:

  • What are your company’s values?
  • What is important to your company’s leadership?
  • What would you like to be known for?
  • What type of change or community impact are you hoping to achieve?

If social impact is one of your goals, it’s important to take the time to work with your nonprofit partners to help determine your impact.

Lindsay J.K. Nichols, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at America’s Charities, explains it this way:

Nonprofits are working tirelessly to solve crises the world over. Our nonprofit members – some of the most trusted, high-performing in the nation – are daily proof. They work to measure their social impact in a variety of ways – not the least of which is short-term results and long-term behavior change.

What Social Impact Is and How to Measure It Effectively

It isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula. Each organization must determine what constitutes social impact. There are many factors and variables to take into account.

But when the seemingly large task is broken down into smaller sections, patterns begin to emerge which help make it easier to understand what social impact is and how to measure it most effectively.

In order to do this, there are four primary steps to determining whether your organization is achieving its goals:

  1. Determine key metrics of success
  2. Collect data from current campaigns
  3. Analyze and compare data to past campaigns
  4. Take action and make improvements if necessary

For more information, download the free white paper Powerful Metrics & Methods for Measuring Effective Social Impact.

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