Demonstrating Value Blog

April 14, 2015

This spring is full of social enterprise events, many of which touch upon measuring, understanding and communicating impact.  Thanks to enp BC for these event listing!


SFU Employment Dialogue Series: Social Enterprise

Tonight: April 14, 2015 (Surrey)


Social Impact Breakfast Session
April 28, 2015  (Prince George) Contact enpBC for more details

All about Impact
May 5, 2015 (Okanagan Region)
All about Impact is a full day of learning for social impact businesses featuring impact mapping, financing, and market assessment.

Building Your Social Enterprise 
May 7, 2015 (...

February 3, 2015

S.M.A.R.T goals are all the rage.  They appear everywhere, and are particularly loved in funding application forms and by strategic planning facilitators.   According to S.M.A.R.T, goals should be: S – specific ;  M – measurable; A - achievable; R – relevant and T - timely. (There is some variations as to the words that make up the acronym.) 


Goal setting is useful.  I am all for not having goals that are fluffy and too high level to be meaningful.  S.M.A.R.T is a useful (and catchy!) guideline for grounding goals in reality.   Sometimes though I think we go too far in setting out goals as a performance measures, rather than separating out the two, particularly when S.M.A.R.T is applied to community impact goals. 


Should we go for S.A.R.T. goals instead of S.M.A.R.T?    This is definitely...

February 3, 2015

Starting a social enterprise in a non-profit often starts with a simple idea – renting out space, starting a gift store, offering a current service to a new (paying) market, providing supportive employment opportunities to clients.   

At planning and start-up, the social enterprise is at the front of everybody ‘s minds, but once it is up and running, it often falls to only a few people, and attention will turn to other issues.  Yet, running an enterprise often turns out to be much more complex and resource intense than expected, with a lot of unexpected bumps and u-turns.  Because something is in the background, doesn’t mean that all is well, or that there aren’t ways to better support the enterprise.   Periodically it can be really beneficial for both the ‘parent’ and social enterprise to step back...

January 19, 2015

On a daily basis I receive a lot of spam mail about how I can make my website better and drive more people to it.  Thus I was a little skeptical when I came across BDC's Free Website Evaluation tool that promises to make it so you can “start improving your website today!”  At the same time, I do find it hard to understand how the Demonstrating Value website is performing, particularly as it relates to other websites out there, and I have some confidence that the tool's host, the BDC, is fairly reputable as a federal crown corporation. I always like the idea of free assessment tools.


So I took the step of entering into the little box, and very quickly (before I could even...

January 13, 2015

Measuring quality of life is a HUGE area and is increasingly being done to understand the key outcomes of many programs, particularly in social services, health care, community development and education. This is great!  Interest in measuring quality of life gets to the core of what measurement should be about - measuring what matters - rather than sticking with what is easy and not particularly important. As Albert Einstein (may have) said: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”


Quality of Life is a concept that is closely related, and sometimes used interchangeably with others - life satisfaction, happiness, well-being.  Interestingly we are coming to quality of life and well being measurement from many different directions:

  1.  The ...
January 13, 2015

This cartoon by DogHouseDiaries made me laugh, both for personal and professional reasons. It certainly brings to mind why we need to have good monitoring and reporting systems in place to find out what's ahead, especially if we don't know the route!


January 13, 2015

NET2VIC Workshop: Demonstrating Value: Build a Management & Reporting Dashboard for your organization
Thursday, February 12, 2015
5:30 PM to 7:30 PM


In this workshop Steve Williams will show you how to demonstrate value by building a management and reporting dashboard for your organization. In this interactive session, you'll develop the outline of a management dashboard that combines financial, social and environmental indicators you can use to lead your team, pitch funders and investors and track your progress.

Location: Fort Tectoria

777 Fort St, Victoria, BC (map)


Suggested Donation $5


Register here


More about Steve Williams:

Steve specializes in Corporate Social Responsibility design, evaluation,...

October 21, 2014

When it comes to measuring and demonstrating value, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. Considerable work, thought and testing has gone into advancing many useful frameworks. I'll be devoting a few blogs to looking at some key frameworks that are used out there, starting with environmental frameworks.


Concern about our environmental impact over the past thirty years has led to evolving frameworks that are used to monitor environmental impact.  While many of these have been applied at national and regional levels to measure high-level changes, it can be useful to also consider these frameworks to demonstrate how an organization or program makes an impact.   This is useful for several reasons:


1) It can help you access and make sense of...

September 18, 2014

How often do you hear politicians in the media talk about the needs of taxpayers?  Too often argues Daphne Bramham, in an editorial I read in Monday’s  Vancouver Sun, “We need citizens, not just taxpayers  and bookeepers.”  Bramham traces the deliberate replacement of citizen with taxpayer, which began in the 1980s with the American anti-tax movement that has since spread to Canada.  Along with that change, she says that politicians began talking more about how much governments spend, and less about the wide range of services that money provides — including health care, courts, policing, environmental protection, roads, transit, funding for the arts, and education.

This article struck a chord because too often I find there is pressure to frame the value of community-based programs in terms of whether it can save taxpayers money.  Will a program...

September 17, 2014

There is a lot of discussion about the need and challenges of measuring impact.  There is also a lot out there about good and bad ways of measuring business performance.  But these two facets alone don’t give a complete picture of the value of an organization and its work.  Measuring organizational sustainability does.

This may be more important than you think. Back in 2008, I convened a workshop of people from organizations that invest in social enterprise in Canada (as part of the research that led to Demonstrating Value).  To kick start a good discussion about what is important to measure, we conducted a survey prior to the workshop that asked investors to rank criteria they use to guide their...