Demonstrating Value Blog

May 3, 2017

The Social Enterprise Institute (SEI) provides short, on-demand eLearning on a variety of topics that address planning and operational needs of new and mature social enterprises alike.  This includes aspects of planning, marketing, pricing, operation and more.  Courses have clear learning objectives which are developed through practical activities, and each course is a great gateways for learning with clear direction  on where to learn more.  Five measurement courses, developed by Bryn Sadownik, have now been added to the Institute's website.


Measuring Business Performanc​e

The starting point for every social enterprise in measurement is usually the financials: to set up an accounting system to track money in and money out.  But extending measurement beyond this to include other aspects of business performance and organizational sustainability, can help you to uncover the...

March 6, 2017

In a recent blog, I described some work that Vancity Community Foundation had led to develop a societal cost calculator for work integration social enterprises (WISE) in Vancouver.   Another aspect of the project, was to develop a shared impact map and indicators.  While individual social enterprises within Vancouver differ in the goods and services they produce and the way in which they engage individuals who are marginalized, they are all working towards similar outcomes.   An outcome is a term used in impact maps (logic models/theory of change) that describes the social change that occurs as a result of the strategies and activities of a social enterprise.


Our challenge is to be able to capture these outcomes more formally and in consistent terms across different enterprises and in a way that could help to...

January 10, 2017

There are some pretty interesting events coming up that relate to evaluation, measuring social impact and data visualizations.  I would love to attend them all!


January 9-14  (Claremont, California)
The Evaluators Institute
A remarkable line-up of sessions relating to evaluation. More info

January 11 (Manitoba)
Logic Models/Visual Planning
Learn how to develop logic models. (Canadian Evaluation Society, Manitoba Chapter) More info

January 11 – February 22 (Toronto)
Infographics and Data Visualization
A short course at George Brown College....

January 3, 2017

The Social Enterprise Institute was launched last year to offer on-demand eLearning courses relating to different aspects of launching and strengthening social enterprises.  It is geared to make it easier for people to learn about topics that specifically interest them, wherever they may be, and whenever they want. 


The Institute breaks out course offerings in terms of ‘Explore’, ‘Build’ and ‘Thrive.’ ‘Explore’ is populated with courses on a practical range of topics that are essential to planning.  Fourteen courses are currently available including Opportunity Identification, Business Model Canvas, Financial Plan, and Legal Aspects.


This year, courses in ‘Build’ and ‘Thrive’ will be added that provide instruction on topics relevant to social enterprises that have been launched, such as marketing, pricing strategies, and of course, measurement!   To this end, I am currently developing four courses that will be available on the...

January 3, 2017

Seniors with complex and chronic health conditions face many challenges. Between 2012 and 2015, Green Shield Canada Foundation (GSCF) funded five health care organizations in the Toronto area to work collaboratively to address aspects of these challenges, investing more than $3 million in specific projects relating to information technology, training, and integrated home care. This was known as the 'Health Innovation Collaborative' (HIC).  Over the three years, GSCF created many opportunities for the funded organizations to work together to share their knowledge, expertise, and resources.   


Many Canadians may know Green Shield Canada as a not-for-profit insurer specializing in individual and group health and dental plans.  ...

December 29, 2016

A project is currently underway in Quebec to design and disseminate tools that collective enterprises and social organizations can use to measure their economic and social impact.  This project is bringing together researchers, enterprises, associations/ networks, and funders together to:


  • Share knowledge and practices
  • Define and test methods and indicators in variety of contexts
  • Support enterprises who are seeking to evaluate their impact (through training)

The project began in Spring 2016 and is envisioned as a three year project.  Since last summer, they have been developing a concept paper that will synthesize the current state of knowledge in this area...

December 28, 2016

Tools like Survey Monkey and Fluid Survey are low or no-cost, easy to use and accessible to anyone with e-mail.   But this also means there are many more surveys out there as well as other competing demands on people’s attention.   It is more important than ever, to design an effective survey that yields data that you can act on.  


Here are some design tips to help:

1. Keep it simple.  Use straight forward wording in the level of language used by the respondent. Also consider a simple design with limited graphics and fonts.


2. Be clear about your intentions. Respondents are more likely to help you if they see something of positive value for them. So take the time to set out why you are asking for this info; what you do with the data; how you will respect privacy and confidentiality.


December 23, 2016

Vancity Community Foundation, a partner of Demonstrating Value, recently launched a 'societal cost calculator' to estimate how employing individuals who are marginalized could influence poverty-related outcomes and associated societal costs.  It draws on empirical research about the links between employment and health and other societal outcomes and relates this to data that most social enterprises are tracking. 


This calculator seeks to provide social enterprises with a straight forward means to make estimates of their impact based on data that they may typically gather.    The results of the calculator may be useful to government and others in showing how social enterprises are connected to important social and economic policy objectives, and the general direction and magnitude of...

December 14, 2015


We take a break from 'Demonstrating Value' to think about 'Creating Value', and specifically how we can create more value from our activities during the holiday season.  Here are five ideas:


1. Increase your impact when you give

Social impact: 

Look for opportunities to buy locally. Associations like LOCO that promote local businesses are springing up in many places and have great directories. Research shows that buying from an independent business has significant local economic impacts. Beyond buying locally, you may get more social impact by also buying: 


  •  from social enterprises (see...
September 23, 2015


JustWork Economic Initiative is an inspiring organization in Vancouver that offers dignified, meaningful employment to people who face barriers to work in the traditional workforce.   They operate three social enterprises: JustRenos, JustPottery and JustCatering.  JustWork Executive Director, David Holcomb, recently told me about three measures, which they find to be very helpful in managing the social enterprises. With his permission, I share these with you.  These are:


1. Ratio of wages paid to community employees compared to the overall enterprise deficit.  This describes the fundraising needed in order for the enterprise to break-even.   As David describes, “Another...