Social enterprises need guidance. One of the aims of the Social Enterprise IMPACT Awards competition was to capture key learnings from those that do it best and here is some advice from the winners:

Empowering to measure your impact

Tammy Darcy, founder of The Shona Project, said groups need to dedicate time to measuring social impact. Then they can be sure that they work they do is as relevant and empowering as possible.

“We don’t just measure impact, we have created an ambassador programme so we can put the voices of our girls front and centre when it comes to decision-making. It is so important to us that we hear their voices, value their opinions and use this information to help us shape our impact projects, because they are the experts in what is best for the young women of Ireland.”

Listening to women helped in Cork

• Vera Stojanović with an ILDN impact award.

Vera Stojanović, programme coordinator at Saoirse EHD, said: “To fellow social enterprises, our advice is to establish robust feedback mechanisms, incorporating the authentic experiences of those we serve to guide and enhance the impact of our collective efforts.

“As a team run by, and dedicated to supporting, migrant women, we invest substantial time in measuring and monitoring our social impact to ensure our initiatives genuinely meet the needs of our members.

“Through this ongoing process, we’ve learned the importance of adapting our approach based on the evolving challenges faced by migrant women. We believe in the power of actively listening to their voices to drive meaningful change.”

Invest time to measure outcomes

Karen Leigh, founder and CEO at Sensational Kids, said it’s easy to report on the numbers of children supported, but it’s a challenge to prove your service is making a real difference.

“We are so happy that we can now report our proven outcomes. It takes time and investment, but it’s proven to be invaluable to know that our service is not only making a big impact but is also reaching clinical standards of change above and beyond the norms. Measuring our impact has been a very positive and valuable experience for us.”

More tips on why to measure your social impact

• Martina Earley, ILDN chair, Edel Lynch from the Together Academy, and Rob Nicholson from the Department of Rural and Community Development.

Edel Lynch, finance manager at Together Academy, said, “We try to adopt an approach of ‘measuring what matters’ and being open to continuous improvement as we cycle through new pilots and programmes.

“Being able to communicate the outcomes of our programmes in a clear and evidence-based way has been critical for us in both securing funding and understanding the effectiveness of our programmes,” she added.

Martina Minogue, social enterprise development officer at Clarecare, said: “The essential process of tracking, measuring, and monitoring social impact at Clarecare is not just about numbers for each of our service areas, it’s about learning, adapting, and continuously improving.

“By continuously refining your approach based on data and insights, your social enterprise can maximise its positive influence on the communities it serves.”

Steven O’Connell, founder of the Football Cooperative, said they aim to “do it once and do it right” and measuring social impact is central to that.

Download the tips toolkit from:

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