Move Social at the 1st Northeast Social Funding Forum

“How can I ascertain the Social Impact of my undertaking?” was the question which guided the roundtable that Move consultant Gustavo Valentim attended at the 1st Northeast Social Funding Forum in Recife on 11 and 12 November 2018. The meeting was organized by ICE, SEBRAE and local businesses and aimed to urge organizations to join forces to address social responsibility issues in the region.

The main points that Move brought to the debate were:

  1. Invest in carefully building up a Theory of Change for your undertaking:

Building a Theory of Change can provide the team with an excellent opportunity to pause operations for a while, take stock and reflect critically on working practices. During this interval, the team should discuss and renegotiate the target populations of the initiative, the short- and medium-term changes these populations see, the products and services that drive these changes and the causal relations between these products and services and the envisaged change.

  1. Establish a feedback process with your clients

The traditional models for evaluation of results and impacts are very cumbersome for social entrepreneurs in terms of both resources and time. By raising the expectation of establishing a dense traditional evaluation process, many organizations become trapped in a feeling of powerlessness regarding the acquisition of knowledge of the more ‘intangible’ results of their actions and therefore end up establishing no data collection process whatsoever to guide decision-making.

The Feedback Loop is a good alternative for those who are beginning an impact project or attempting to bring one to maturity. Feedback is based on three main guiding questions:

  1. What do people want?
  2. Are we helping them to get it?
  3. If not, what can we do differently?

By establishing a Feedback Loop with clients, companies can enter into dialogue with their target population, find out about their clients’ experience of their products and/or services and ascertain whether their proposal is being well-received and properly understood by the intended beneficiaries.

Feedback research can be carried out in various ways: interviews, questionnaires, focus groups. When dealing with a large target population, the Listen 4 Good and Feedback Labs movements recommend the use of short questionnaires, with 2 to 5 questions, applied through some kind of technology: online questionnaires, pop-ups, SMS, telephone interviews or even e-mails.

These questions may focus either on the process (products and/or services) or on the possible results. In some more disruptive operations, where it is difficult to assess the consequences, or in those that deal with complex issues such as violence against women or provision of support to the families of substance abusers, Feedback can also help to ascertain the true potential of your work and corroborate your change hypotheses.

Meeting Needs

  1. How important are the services provided by (NAME OF ORGANIZATION) for you and for others in your community?
  2. Generally speaking, to what extent do the services provided by (NAME OF ORGANIZATION) meet your needs?

Experience of the Service

  1. How often do (NAME OF ORGANIZATION) staff treat you with respect?
  2. How comfortable do you feel about contacting (NAME OF ORGANIZATION), should a problem arise?

Preliminary Results

  1. To what extent does (NAME OF ORGANIZATION) help you to solve your problems?
  2. Tell us a little more about the changes you have seen since you began using the services provided by (NAME OF ORGANIZATION).

The results of these surveys provide an excellent springboard for conversations within the team and with future investors. They provide a great opportunity to align expectations with reality, to form closer ties and to build up an impact narrative.

One shortcoming of feedback garnered by the social organization itself may be a lack of methodological rigor and this may lead to a reluctance to make certain claims. However, it has the advantage of swiftly providing information in time to make crucial decisions based on real data.

The issues and concerns raised by social entrepreneurs confirm the urgent need to create a new mindset regarding the evaluation of transformations brought about by this kind of operation, involving more practicable processes that are achievable within constraints regarding resources and tight decision-making deadlines.

The meeting concluded with the launch of C.ACTO, Impact Entrepreneurs Group, a group that aims to continue these discussions and provide further support and improvements for social organizations in the region. Move is fully behind this initiative and wishes it well!