Understanding the Impact of Social Entrepreneurs: Ashoka's Answer to the Challenge of Measuring Effectiveness

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This article originally appeared on www.ashoka.org

The article begins with an overview of recent trends in social entrepreneurship and select milestones in performance measurement in the U.S. citizen sector. The article then offers definitions of social entrepreneurship and systemic change that have been developed by Ashoka during its 25 years of investing in and supporting the field. It goes on to present the Ashoka Measuring Effectiveness methodology and includes sample results from the first six years of survey implementation.

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Ashoka Insight

Based on its 25 years of experience identifying and supporting social entrepreneurs worldwide, Ashoka has created a system for assessing the wide-scale, systemic impact that social entrepreneurs seek to create. Ashoka uses the following core set of specific proxy indicators in its measuring effectiveness survey:

  • Are you still working toward your original vision?
  • Have others replicated your original idea?
  • Have you had impact on public policy?

As the citizen sector grows and social entrepreneurship becomes an increasingly important force for world change, the questions of accountability and measuring impact will only become more urgent. Ashoka is committed to refining its Measuring Effectiveness program and believes that, through continued creative exploration, the field will develop measurement tools which capture systemic change while avoiding the pitfalls of resource-intensiveness and stifling, bureaucratic reporting requirements.

Authors

Noga Leviner
Leslie R. Crutchfield
Diana joined the organization after graduating from Brown University in 1988 with a degree in South Asian Studies. As an undergraduate, her year-long study abroad in Varanasi, India led her to see the need for local solutions to solve global problems. This insight inspired her to pursue an internship at Ashoka, where she created one of its core programs, Fellowship Support Services, (now Fellowship) which expanded the resources available to Ashoka’s social entrepreneurs to connect them to one another. She became the President of Ashoka in 2005. She has contributed significantly to the field of social entrepreneurship by implementing one of the first, and now widely respected, tools to measure the impact of social entrepreneurship.

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