Summary: When should the question of using and communicating evaluation results be asked? In many cases, it is after the analysis of results has been completed that more specific thought is given to potential audiences and uses. To some extent, the results determine how they will be used. In this section, we will see the benefits of reversing this logic: the intended use should guide the entire evaluation process from the start.
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.