Finding the Words and the Actions

Image posted by Tamara Evans, Found on Flickr

I’ve now seen two mentions of The Mulago Foundation’s “8 Word Mission Statement” on two websites that I follow almost every day  (TRASI and GOOD). So of course, I had to make time to read up on the organization, and I found that the 8 word mission statement is the first of the powerful ways that The Mulago Foundation thinks about measuring impact.  I suggest you go over to their page to read about all the things the Foundation is doing and how they integrate social impact into their DNA – as Managing Director Kevin Starr put it to GOOD, “We don’t invest in anyone who isn’t at least trying to measure their own impact.” Definitely part of their DNA. Here is a snippet of what you’ll see:

Five Steps to Determine Impact and Calculate Bang for the Donor Buck

1. Figure out what you’re trying to accomplish: the real mission

2. Pick the right indicator

3. Get real numbers

4. Make the case for attribution

5. Calculate bang-for-the-buck


Under “pick the right indicator,” the explanation is that if you can find the single best indicator, or combination of indicators, of accomplishing the 8-word mission (which describes the desired impact of the work of the organization), than you can identify behaviors related to the indicators and measure those as proxies for measuring actual impact. This framework for Social Impact Assessment sounds very useful, not just to help mission-driven organizations focus their efforts (a challenge for any world-changing visionaries), but also to help guide the culture of the organization to incorporate even more efficiency and accountability. Of all the sources I have read about the meaning and potential of Social Impact Assessment, this change in culture has come up, directly or indirectly, in almost all of them.

Promised follow-up posting: So how are the recipients of the Mulago Foundation’s funds putting Social Impact Assessment into action? I’ll investigate and report back!


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