The IMM Burning Topics articles asked 25 thought leaders to share their views on the most crucial questions related to impact measurement and management (IMM). These five essential takeaways represent what we learned along the way.
We’re sharing them now not just because the Burning Topics series is coming to a close, but because 2023 marks a year when mastering IMM is more crucial than ever. Our research has shown growth in the impact sector, but with more impact stakeholders comes a more pressing need to preserve integrity. The IMM insights you’ll find below aim to put impact stakeholders in the strongest, most informed position to drive real change (not impact washing) for people and planet.
1. Improved assessment improves outcomes
Robust impact data can serve as the engine of change, and IMM should be embedded in the DNA of every organisation focused on positive change for people and planet. Impact capital providers have a role in supporting their investees/grantees to set up IMM processes that do not add reporting burdens but help improve their operations, thus maximising their positive outcomes. In addition, impact capital providers should measure and manage their own added value towards the supported organisations and ecosystem.
2. Transparency builds trust
Increased transparency about IMM practices and performances will enhance trust among investors and unlock collaboration opportunities, as well as mobilise additional capital for impact while preserving the credibility of the whole impact ecosystem. If the industry’s transparency efforts do not take this direction, they risk becoming a compliance effort with little added value. Many EVPA members have proven their expertise on measuring and managing impact, and as such have a key opportunity to drive the development of IMM standards and best practices, leading the way toward a more transparent and thriving ecosystem.
3. Accountability and impact maximisation go hand in hand
Impact financing has inherited reporting dynamics from mainstream finance, which aim at ensuring shareholder accountability. However, leading organisations are moving towards stakeholder accountability, which implies mitigating power imbalances with investees, improving transparency to the public and ensuring that beneficiaries’ voices inform decisions. Input from a wide range of stakeholders forces investors and investees to act upon beneficiaries’ needs, ultimately maximising impact.
4. Third-party validation can help safeguard impact integrity
Rising mainstream interest in impact and sustainability has significantly increased the claims of investors and companies interested in reputational gains. To maintain impact integrity, the role of independent impact assurers will become increasingly relevant. Key assurance activities include: harmonising assurance standards and methodologies; ensuring stakeholders learn throughout this process, assuring both best practices and performance; and democratising access to impact assurance services.
5. Keep debating – but keep the horizon in sight
When investors set up their IMM strategy, they face questions that even the most seasoned practitioners may be unable to answer. To what extent do standardised indicators allow for granular analysis of the impact achieved? Is monetisation the best way to approach impact valuation? While EVPA’s programs encourage debate, peer-learning and the consideration of big questions, these activities should not eclipse our common horizon: putting impact measurement and management at the service of decision-making.
The journey isn’t over. In 2023, we’re getting more practical with our IMM insights; that means new case studies, editorials and even a podcast – stay tuned! And stay up to date in your inbox with our newsletter.
As always, the wisdom of the impact community fuels out insights. Got an IMM topic we missed? Let us know!