30 July 2020

5. Indicators


People contemplating a possible evaluation of impact in a social economy setting generally want to know what the most appropriate indicators to support them in their approach would be.

In this context, an indicator is a measure used to assess or evaluate results, resource use, progress and context, among others. It allows a qualitative or quantitative assessment of a phenomenon using data or information as a benchmark.

  • To learn more about the definition of other relevant terms such as standard, variable, proxy and many others, see the Glossary.

It is generally agreed that there is no universal grid of social impact indicators, meaning that each evaluation must be adapted to the objectives and particularities of the organization being studied rather than solely relying on an external system of reference.

Indicators are used to measure a criterion and can be organized by the dimension of their social usefulness, as shown in the following table. The table also shows that indicators can be qualitative or quantitative and apply to different objects (context, outputs, outcomes, etc.).

Example of a reference framework taken from a work integration enterprise

Source: Duclos, H. (2007). Évaluer l’utilité sociale de son activité: conduire une démarche d’auto-évaluation. Avise. p. 113.

Drawing from the above example, which is a reference framework only, we drafted the following template. It serves to guide organizations in developing their own social impact measurement plan that applies more specifically to the dimensions and criteria of their situation.

Source: TIESS, inspired from Duclos (2007)


Below you will find lists of indicators used in a social economy context, provided as examples only. They are organized by broad themes and are intended to apply to most social economy enterprises rather than to a specific sector of activity. All lists are in French.

+ Social usefulness, citizenship, democracy, innovation

+ Economy, employment

+ Governance, legal status, special features of the SE

+ Territory, environment, sustainable development

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