Assessing Impact of Corporate and Family Foundations

In India, the field of impact assessment in the social sector is marked by varying approaches and a lack of standardization. Foundations and individuals have each developed their own impact assessment approaches independently, but their experiences have not yet coalesced into a consistent body of standardized best practices. Dasra’s report, Measuring Up, is a first step towards painting the landscape of impact assessment among corporate and family foundations in India. It highlights the key approaches to building a successful and effective impact assessment practice for all foundations.

Why is it Important ?
Industry bodies and the government have been encouraging corporations to be more transparent in their philanthropic efforts with the recommended 2% pre-tax profit allocation to social projects. Measuring effectiveness and evaluating grant making are therefore increasingly becoming necessary to:
  • Understand whether ‘social impact intended’ matches ‘social impact created’.
  • Demonstrate social impact created.
  • Improve effectiveness of programatic activities.
  • Create organizational learning for foundations as well as grantees.
  • Contribute to a body of knowledge in the social sector that prevents duplication and reinventing of the wheel.
What are the priority areas for action?

Dasra has identified the following four key factors in building a successful and effective impact assessment practice for all foundations:
  • Plan for impact assessment: Defining impact assessment activities at the planning stage is critical to successful assessment. Foundations must create strategies to determine the structure of their impact assessment process, such as how often they would like to collect metrics, and the investment that they would like to make, in terms of cost as well as time and human resources.
  • Create a list of master indicators to be measured: Foundation staff, in conjunction with third party evaluators, must decide which metrics need to be tracked, and how regularly to assess the impact of their projects. Metrics may be quantitative or qualitative, depending on the scope of information available to the foundation as well the nature of its work.
  • Design tools and capture information: Once metrics have been determined, foundations must decide how best to collect information related to outputs and outcomes from beneficiaries and field partners.
  • Organize and share information: Raw data collected must be organized and presented in a form that can be used by different stakeholders, including the foundation's board, non-profit partners, grantee organizations and the general public.