Evaluation is not an end in itself. Whether it focuses on the impact of social purpose organizations (SPOs) – social economy, community action, social enterprises – or other aspects of their activities, the main purpose must be, as we have argued here, to learn and draw lessons that will then be transformed into a series of actions aimed at improving activities and outcomes.
Social impact evaluation and measurement has been a hotly debated term in recent years. But what are we really talking about? What are the origins of these concepts? For whom, why, and how is impact being measured? Who are the actors, methods and experiences involved? What are the difficulties, risks, opportunities, tensions and challenges for the social economy and the development of our territories?
Note: Where no source is indicated, the definition can be considered to have been elaborated by TIESS.
Social impact measurement and evaluation
Evaluation: A systematic approach to assessing the value of an intervention.
Impact evaluation: A systematic approach to estimating the consequences attributable to an intervention.
Social impact measurement: Activity of assessing the effects (or outcomes) of an intervention.
An evaluative approach is always situated, consciously or not, within a given paradigm. The latter, understood as a perspective on the nature of things and the way in which they can be known, necessarily affects the method one will follow to analyze their evolution. Although it is desirable to remain as objective as possible, each evaluation approach involves certain choices and trade-offs that should preferably be made in an informed manner.