Many social enterprises do not effectively communicate the social value they create and often struggle to attract impact investors, new stakeholders or allies.
This article is intended to give some insight and motivate enterprises struggling to communicate their value and provide resources to help you either get started or keep measuring your social impact.
Show, then tell
Isn’t it always more believable when you see, touch or experience something before you hear about its value and benefits? The same can be said for your social enterprise’s value; especially from new investors.
The most common mistake I see with my Perfect Pitch Coaching clients, is that they rely too much on the personal story of the person or place that benefits from their product/service/program, without providing the impact evidence (typically numbers) to back it up.
So, when you are designing a new product/service/program for impact, be sure to use a Theory of Change or logic model so that you can test it during your validation stage. This tool can help follow a logical flow from resource inputs to outcomes. It’s more than a flow-chart; it helps you clarify the assumptions that must be true for the model to work. Your logic model should reinforce and complement your social impact business model and be somewhat easy to follow by investors, stakeholders and your team.
Lock in your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Once you’ve validated your model(s), you should have a few impact KPIs to closely measure and monitor, including your top line KPIs (revenue or expense related).
These indicators will directly correlate with your desired outputs (numbers) as well as the desired changes with the people and/or places you serve (outcomes). Often, outcomes can be tricky, especially given that many interventions take time to take root or have an effect. We recommend a pre/post survey and follow-up incentives to take surveys at longer points of time after people experience your product/service/program. A survey that measures a person’s change in behavior, attitudes or perceptions can be your outcome evidence for your theory of change.
Telling an Impact Story
Sometimes you can tell the story, but it is always better to let others tell your story using both human examples (case studies) as well as program KPIs that show evidence over time. This combination of putting a face to the cause or impact you are serving along with validated metrics and outcomes is powerful.
But, who is best at telling this for you? Some impact investors may ask to hire evaluators or send their own program officers to collect data, interview beneficiaries and do site visits. This is a great opportunity to show and then tell. Be open to learning together with the third-party analyzing your outcomes and impact. Be sure you ask for a semi-private report that you can share with all your stakeholders for both learning and communicating the social value of your social enterprise.
Resources to get started
- Developing a Theory of Change To Define and Communicate Your Social Enterprise’s Impact Webinar published by MovingWorlds, Part One (free) webinar
- Theory of Change Model, as explained by Paul Wright
- First Steps Perfect Pitch Clinic, my workshop that gives you insights to the components of a perfect pitch (including your impact story).
How do you communicate your enterprise’s value to investors? Did this resonate? Book a complimentary Exploratory Call to talk about your model.