In taking stock of the landscape, this paper promotes a convergence of methods, building from both the impact investment and evaluation fields.
The commitment of impact investors to strengthen the process of generating evidence for their social returns alongside the evidence for financial returns is a veritable game changer. But social change is a complex business and good intentions do not necessarily translate into verifiable impact.
As the public sector, bilaterals, and multilaterals increasingly partner with impact investors in achieving collective impact goals, the need for strong evidence about impact becomes even more compelling. The time has come to develop new mindsets and approaches that can be widely shared and employed in ways that will advance the frontier for impact measurement and evaluation of impact investing. Each of the menu options presented in this paper can contribute to building evidence about impact. The next generation of measurement will be stronger if the full range of options comes into play and the more evaluative approaches become commonplace as means for developing evidence and testing assumptions about the processes of change from a stakeholder perspective– with a view toward context and systems.
Creating and sharing evidence about impact is a key lever for contributing to greater impact, demonstrating additionality, and for building confidence among potential investors, partners and observers in this emergent industry on its path to maturation. Further, the range of measurement options offers opportunities to choose appropriate approaches that will allow data to contribute to impact management– to improve on the business model of ventures and to improve services and systems that improve conditions for people and households living in poverty.