*This section is still a work in progress. If you spot any mistakes or would like to suggest edits, please do so by contacting email@example.com
There are hundreds of guides, tools, reports, websites and other resources that can support you in the process of evaluating or measuring social impact. TIESS has selected about fifty of them for you.
- To access these resources, go to the Selection of relevant resources on Passerelles. The platform is in French and most resources are either in French or English.
Moreover, several organizations in Quebec and Canada are active in the field of evaluation and impact measurement of the social economy. This page lists various initiatives (funders, researchers, consultants, etc.) that have already completed or are able to support social economy organizations with evaluation and social impact measurement. However, this list is far from being exhaustive, especially for other provinces than Quebec, and does not include private for-profit consultants.
To find out which organizations are likely to support you in your region in Quebec, we suggest that you contact your Pôle d’économie sociale.
The online platform Mission. Model. Measure. available at www.socialimpact.tools aims to inform social enterprises on the topic of social impact measurement. Its guidance section supports social entrepreneurs step by step through all the relevant steps of the process such as clarifying the mission, planning the approach, identifying relevant indicators, collecting data and communicating and improving impact.
The resources section lists hundreds of relevant guides, documents and websites.
The website also refers users to online training courses hosted on the Social Enterprise Institute website.
This platform, which is online since 2019, was mainly funded by the Government of Canada as part of the S4ES project. It builds on the decades of experience developed by the Social Value Lab in Scotland.
The Common Approach to Impact Measurement project is an initiative which aims to establish a new type of flexible impact measurement standard for social purpose organizations in Canada.
It was officially launched in July 2018. The initiative now has its own governance body but owes much to Kate Ruff from the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (3ci). It is currently funded by Employment and Social Development Canada.
The core project partners are the Centre for Social Services Engineering at the University of Toronto, The Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNET), Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), Pillar Nonprofit Network and Social Resource Development Canada (SRDC), with key contributions from Sametrica, Nourishing Communities, Centre for Social Enterprise Development, Ontario Nonprofit Network, Paro Centre For Women’s Enterprise, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing at the University of Waterloo, PolicyWise for Children & Families, Data for Good, Demonstrating Value, Rally Assets, FNIGC, TIESS, SEI, and Powered by Data.
The Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT, formerly MEDG), as part of its 2016-2021 Social Enterprise Strategy, had funded a literature review on the topic of impact measurement, authored by the Mowat Centre in 2016, and set up a task force which involved several organizations that are now partners of the Common Approach and led to the publication of a report in 2017 authored by KPMG. The Common Approach project is implementing the action plan that was proposed in the task force report.
The Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) is a non-profit research organization with the mission to “develop, field test, and rigorously evaluate new programs. SRDC’s two-part mission is to help policy-makers and practitioners identify policies and programs that improve the well-being of all Canadians, with a special concern for the effects on the disadvantaged, and to raise the standards of evidence that are used in assessing these policies”.
As their focus is policy and program evaluation, their main clients are public administrations across Canada rather than social enterprises themselves, however, they are likely, in many cases, to evaluate the impact of social enterprises that are funded through a government-run program.
Social Value Canada is the Canadian branch of the Social Value International network, which was originally founded to promote the use of the Social Return on Investment (SROI) method. The organization is now longer focused on that unique method, but still relies on the seven principles that apply to several contexts even though they were originally formulated for SROI. Social Value Canada occasionally organizes training, conferences and webinars.
Stephanie Robertson, who is also the CEO and founder of the Simpact Strategy Group, based in Calgary, has greatly contributed to the development of this network. Simpact also offers trainings and consulting services related to SROI.
The Tamarack Institute is a pan-canadian organization headquartered in Waterloo that has been developing, for several years, an expertise on the themes of collective impact and evaluating community impact. They greatly contributed to popularizing in Canada the notions of collective impact and shared measurement first developed by FSG in the US in 2011, and eventually adapting them to the needs of communities in a Canadian context.
SAMETRICA, RIDDL and the CSI Dashboard (also mentioned below) are Canadian-based platforms designed to support social enterprises’ impact reporting, often in relationship with the needs of impact investors or other funders. Their services typically include technical support to build a logic model, collect data and generate reports.
Impakfinance is an impact-focused rating agency based in Montreal that works directly with impact investors. In a similar vein, Rally Assets is a Canadian firm that sells impact advisory services, asset management services (impact funds and customized portfolios), and impact measurement services.
Between 2015 and 2017, the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) led a project on the topic of evaluation which resulted in the publication of several useful resources that are still available on their website.
This blog article provides highlights of the lessons that were drawn through this work as well as a timeline of the project.
The ONN does not provide direct support to organizations looking for evaluation services, but they might refer you to Andrew Taylor or Ben Liadksy who are the authors of most resources about evaluation on their website.
The Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario (CCO) is the French network of cooperatives in Ontario. The CCO offers coaching on impact measurement through Innoweave’s module on the issue. Measuring social impact is one of the CCO’s Social Research and Innovation division’s priority issues. Since 2017, the CCO has been working on an initiative that puts the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the center of its impact measurement strategy and will eventually publish the results of this initiative. Meanwhile, people who would like to know more can contact Jean-Francois Parent (Manager and Operations Manager: Eastern Ontario) or Nadia Djinnit (Senior Officer).
Moreover, the CCO, in partnership with Co-operatives and mutuals Canada (CMC), has launched in 2020 a website about the Investment readiness program (IRP). It contains some information related to impact measurement in English and French.
British-Columbia and Prairies
The Demonstrating Value (DV) project was launched in British Columbia in 2007. It was a joint initiative of the Vancity Community Foundation and the federal government. The objective of the project was to develop a framework to assess the performance and impacts of social enterprises. In 2013, the Demonstrating Value Resource Society was established to take the work of the initial project further. In the last years, DV led a project on the collective impact of social enterprises in Vancouver, designed a toolkit to assess the impact of farmers’ market and studied ways to demonstrate the value of land conservation. The Demonstrating Value website is still regularly updated thanks to the work of Bryn Sadownik and has extended its activities to the rest of Canada.
The Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing (S3I) is a research center affiliated to the Sauder Business School at University of British Columbia (UBC). It was officially launched in the Spring of 2009. Their main research areas are social innovation, impact investing, low carbon economy, and first nations economic development. Through this work, they are likely to address the topic of measuring the impact of social enterprises.
Based in Vancouver, Buy Social Canada’s mission is to “advances and promotes social procurement by bringing socially driven purchasers and social enterprise suppliers together, building business relationships that generate social benefits to communities across the country”.
Although their work does not directly focus on evaluating or measuring the impact of social enterprises, having reliable data on the issue is of prime interest for them, as procurement strategies that involves a wider inclusion of social and environmental dimensions usually requires reliable indicators on these outcomes. Their knowledge base includes some documents about methods and measurements.
The Social Enterprise Institute (SEI) offers online learning opportunities to social entrepreneurs in Canada, Australia and the UK. Common Good Solutions, based in Halifax, is the main partner/founder of the initiative in Canada. The SEI sells a course about impact measurement based on the 10 modules of the Mission. Model. Measure initiative for about 1000$ as well as introductions to the foundations of impact measurement developed by the Common Approach Project and to the logic model.
The Centre of Excellence in Accounting and Reporting for Co-operatives (CEARC), affiliated with Saint Mary’s University in Halifax leads, since 2016, a project called Co-operative Performance Indicators. As of 2020, the project was still active and in a pilot phase. Researchers affiliated to the CEARC are also working on developing a version 3.0 of the Coop Index to better support cooperatives in evaluating the engagement and satisfaction of their members and employees.
The ImpactLab is a research project of the Center for Leadership Excellence affiliated to Saint Mary’s University Sobey School of Business in Halifax.
“The goal of the ImpactLab is to undertake cutting-edge research, develop measures and tools for the assessment of total impact, and apply these measures in assessment of impact in for-profit and nonprofit organizations.” In doing so, the centre hopes to develop the competencies of students interested in this topic and engage with the community to provide opportunities to nonprofit organizations to measure their impact.
Major funders (public administrations and foundations)
Some evaluations are carried out directly by Government of Quebec employees, internally. A notable example is the evaluation of work insertion enterprises carried out by the ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MESS) in 2013.
In other cases, the government prefers to outsource the work of evaluating the impacts of its programs to external consultants. This is the case in the housing sector where SHQ programs, which fund several housing co-operatives and NPOs, have been evaluated by AECOM (AECOM, Côté, Demars, Girard and Leleu, 2013).
The Direction de l’entrepreneuriat collectif, within the ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) is obviously very interested in the impact of social economy sector activities, but has neither the resources nor the mandate to be directly involved in conducting such evaluations.
The McConnell Foundation sometimes uses developmental evaluation and is very interested in the notion of impact. For example, the Innoweave program, funded by the Foundation, offers a number of training opportunities related to evaluation for charitable and not-for-profit organizations.
The modules “Impact and Strategic Clarity” and “Collective Impact” help participants to clarify the impact they are seeking through, among other things, the articulation of a clear theory of change, which is an essential prerequisite for measuring impact.
The “Developmental Evaluation” module helps participants use available data for real-time feedback. Finally, the “Data Utilization” and “Impact Measurement” modules, still under development, will complement Innoweave’s training opportunities regarding impact measurement.
The Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation is interested in evaluating the impact of the initiatives it finances. In 2009, in partnership with the Quebec government, it set up three flagship programs:
- Québec en Forme for healthy living;
- Avenir d’enfants for early childhood development;
- Réunir Réussir for school perseverance.
Several evaluations have been conducted under these programmes, in partnership with the community groups and external evaluators.
The website Agirtôt.org, launched as part of the Avenir d’Enfants project, offers a range of resources related to participatory evaluation, including a guide and examples.
United Way/Centraide is a global philanthropic network of approximately 1,800 organizations in some 40 countries and territories (United Way, 2017). There are 18 regional groups in Quebec (United Way Centraide Canada, 2017).
In Quebec, Centraide du Grand Montréal is the group that raises and distributes the most funds. In 2016, it established, in partnership with other foundations, the Projet à impact collectif (PIC), inspired by the notion of collective impact that has been circulating in the philanthropic community for a number of years now. In theory, this type of project involves the implementation of a shared measurement system, an approach that would make it possible to identify the impact targeted by a group of organizations and to measure it with greater certainty than the evaluation of an isolated project (Kramer, Parkhurst and Vaidyanathan, 2009). Examples of shared measurement systems have been disseminated by the J. W. McConnell Foundation through its Innoweave programme (see above).
So far, it is mostly some Tables de quartiers and their members that benefited from the funding related to the PIC. As part of this funding, the privileged evaluation approach, called ÉvalPIC, is participatory and developmental, and the main organization in charge of it is Dynamo.
In 2019, Coop Niska carried out an evaluation of the impact of the program for local communities. The results are presented in the following infographic.
Researchers (CEGEPs and universities)
The Community-University Research Alliance on the Social Economy (CURA-SE) was active in Quebec between 2000 and 2009. Although its work did not specifically focus on evaluation, there are a few publications on the subject:
- A report on the state of the art (Neamtan, 2000);
- A report on the implementation of an information and evaluation system for the social economy (Tardif, Tessier, Patry, Klein and Carrière, 2001);
- A checklist on evaluation in the social economy (Rondot and Bouchard, 2003);
- A call for a new participatory approach to evaluation (Fontan and Lachance, 2005);
- A reflection and case study on the theme of the social economy dashboard (Renaud and Brésil, 2006);
- An evaluation of the social usefulness of the recreation community sector (Lessard, Shields, Allard, Lafortune and Vaillancourt, 2009).
Without being exclusively led by researchers from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), the CURA-SE was nevertheless close to that institution. Even today, several professors, particularly in the Department of Organization and Human Resources, are interested in evaluating the practices and outcomes of the social economy.
This is particularly true of professors Marie J. Bouchard, Maude Léonard and Sonia Tello-Rozas, who wrote an impact study on the Réseau d’investissement social du Québec (RISQ) (M. J. Bouchard et al., 2017).
The Canada Research Chair in Social Economy, whose holder was Marie J. Bouchard, was active from 2003 to 2013. Its third research axis was “socio-economic evaluation”. Some of the publications produced at that time dealt with the theme of SE evaluation:
- an article proposing three dimensions to be considered in a negotiated evaluation of the social economy: organizational, social usefulness, and institutional (M. Bouchard, 2004);
- an entire book that brings together several perspectives on the issue of evaluating the social economy (M. J. Bouchard, 2009).
The TIESS’ approach to evaluation and impact measurement of the social economy is in line with this work, as Professor Marie J. Bouchard is its scientific director.
The Chaire de recherche en fiscalité et finances publiques de l’Université de Sherbrooke is not directly interested in evaluating the impacts of social economy enterprises, but researchers affiliated with it have published a study on subsidized daycare services and the labour force participation rate of women which concerns the sector as Centres de Petite Enfrance (CPEs) are SE organizations (Fortin, Godbout and St-Cerny, 2012). This study generated a number of media discussions in Quebec (Fillion, 2014). Professor François Delorme, associated with this research chair, also updated a study on the economic impact of work insertion enterprises in Quebec as a consultant (Delorme, 2015).
The Institut de recherche et d’éducation pour les coopératives et les mutuelles de l’université de Sherbrooke (IRECUS) has a research axis on the “Individual, collective and societal impacts” of cooperatives. The aim is “to understand the social, cultural, economic and environmental impact of cooperatives and mutuals on individuals, groups of individuals and society, so as to enhance the contribution of cooperatives to the sustainable development of their communities”. For the time being, only the publication of (Lafleur and Merrien, 2012) seems to directly address this theme, but others may be forthcoming.
The Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en opérationnalisation du développement durable (CIRODD) is interested in tools for measuring sustainable development. It finds itself de facto contributing to research on the measurement of the social impact of a given activity, even if this is not the research angle adopted.
The CIRAIG aims to “develop, interpret, integrate and transfer the knowledge required to operationalize life cycle thinking and its implementation for sustainable development, with a view to responsible consumption, production and governance”. In doing so, the CIRAIG contributes to the evaluation of the social, environmental and economic effects of various activities. For example, affiliated researchers have produced a study on “companies such as Insertech and certain Centres de formation en Entreprise et Récupération (CFER)” (Fagnen, Charron-Doucet, Brodeur et Revéret, 2011, p. 1).
To learn more about life cycle assessment, consult the TIESS fact sheet on this subject, co-authored with the CIRAIG.
The Centre d’expertise et d’accompagnement en innovation sociale (CERESO), associated with the Cégep de Lanaudière, offers data collection, impact analysis and program evaluation services. An example of such work is the evaluation of the Dominos program, conducted by the organization l’Avenue, justice alternative. CERESO could eventually support social economy enterprises in evaluating their impact.
The Centre d’Étude des COnditions de vie et des BESoins de la population (ÉCOBES), associated with the Cégep de Jonquière, does not specifically target social economy enterprises, but is interested in applied social science research. It completed numerous program evaluations in the field of social intervention and has the potential to help social economy enterprises evaluate their impact.
The Centre d’étude en responsabilité sociale et écocitoyenneté (CERSÉ), associated with Collège de Rosemont, offers services for the “analysis, evaluation and improvement of projects, programs and processes”. However, no study produced by this organization and made public to date deals specifically with the evaluation of the impacts of social economy enterprises.
The Laboratoire d’intervention en évaluation pour organismes communautaires (LaboEval), associated with the University of Ottawa and ENAP, enables “community organizations to receive practical training in evaluation and to carry out evaluation projects with the benefit of coaching and technical support. LaboEval launched its activities in 2019 and is active in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. More information can be found in their brochure.
Organizations associated with the social economy that offer support
The Comité sectoriel de la main-d’œuvre en économie sociale et action communautaire (CSMO ÉSAC) has been active for a very long time in the field of social impact measurement, thanks to the contribution of Lynda Binhas, who published a discussion paper on social indicators (Binhas, 2004) as well as a guide on conducting studies that can be applied to any social economy enterprise or community organization (Binhas, 2007a).
The examples of evaluation of the impacts of social economy enterprises carried out by this organization and made public concern community televisions (Binhas, 2007b, 2016).
In addition to evaluating specific organizations, networks, projects or programs, the CSMO-ÉSAC has been offering training on social impact measurement for several years. You can learn more on their website and by consulting this booklet. Finally, an online course developed in partnership with SOFAD will soon be available on the social economy and community action online education portal FC3.
The Centre de formation populaire (CFP) offers evaluation coaching services. It advocates for an evaluation that is “by and for” (par et pour) and calls this approach Évalpop. It also offers training on impact evaluation. Many testimonials and examples of evaluations of community organizations conducted by the CSP can be found on the Évalpop website.
MCE Conseils provides consulting services and proposes, among its services offer, to carry out socio-economic impact studies. In particular, they evaluated the impact of the work of the Fédération des coopératives de développement régional du Québec (MCE Conseils, 2014).
Dynamo offers evaluation services, particularly in a community development context. These evaluations may or may not deal with outcomes. Dynamo is in charge of ÉvalPIC as part of the Projet à impact collectif (PIC). No study produced by this organization, and made public to date, deals specifically with the evaluation of the effects of social economy enterprises.
Communagir offers services in developmental evaluation and support t in the preparation of evaluations that could address outcomes and impacts, particularly in the field of collective development. In 2018, they published a practical guide entitled “Une évaluation utile et mobilisatrice, est-ce possible? “(Groupe de travail sur l’évaluation, 2018).
Niska Co-op offers evaluation services that can focus on the outcomes of the activities of social economy organizations. In particular, they have conducted studies on the social impacts of Centraide in the Eastern Townships (Nadeau and Lussier, 2018) and the PIC in Montréal (coop Niska, 2019).
L’Esplanade is an accelerator and collaborative space located in Montreal and dedicated to entrepreneurship and social innovation. In particular, it supports social economy enterprises. L’Esplanade addresses the theme of measuring and communicating its impact as part of the Impact8 coaching program.