Success Story 2

Success Story – impact reporting format for social enterprises


The Estonian Social Enterprise Network has – in cooperation with two fantastic volunteers and a consultancy Stories For Impact – created a simple yet attractive reporting standard for its members. The process of compiling the report helps social enterprises to clarify their theories of change, choose proper indicators and become more experienced in story-telling. The format can be applied for any sector (e.g. from employment generation to community activism).


It all starts with mapping the journey from the need (of a specific target group) to intended impact. It is the hardest part. Compressing the whole strategy of an organisation into a simple scheme requires sometimes many hours of having discussions and making hard choices. The awards? Simplicity. Clarity. Feeling that impact topic has transformed from complicated and even scary into something tangible and surprisingly practical.


Here is an example from a social enterprise that helps long-term unemployed people (mostly) with disabilities back to open labor market:



How to prove that the impact journey is true… when there are no resources for academically bullet-proof analysis?




Firstly – of course any social enterprise can communicate activity, output and outcome indicators. The trick here is to choose carefully, which of these are the most meaningful in terms of impact. Even if they are not expressing impact, they should clearly be the potential foundation for impact analysis.





Secondly – even without the budget to prove the theory of change academically there is something each social enterprise can do. That is – to collect stories!


The secret here is to avoid collecting just any nice story. The requirement – all the stories that are collected and communicates must prove explicitly that the theory of change is true. In other words - the main character of the story must a typical representative of the target group and her / his “real journey” must correspond to the “theoretical journey” outlined in the scheme of theory of change.



Here is another story – from a social enterprise called Avitus that improves the well-being of people with mood disorders and reduces stress, burnout and depression.


And fans of quantitative analysis can also keep reading. The story is followed by some numbers connected with the same case!






So… Stories are nice. What about quantitative analysis when no resources for SROI?


One solution for small and medium sized change-makers – do calculations at least for one member of the target group! Then you will have at least something tangible to put on the discussion table e.g. when negotiating a public contract with municipality administration.




Part of the vision of Stories For Impact is to inspire at least some countries to promote a common format that becomes the impact accounting disclosure standard for social purpose organisations. Without strong efforts to establish such standard, the impact analysis and communication of (smaller) social-purpose organisations will forever be scattered, unnecessarily confusing and resource-consuming.


Want to share the adventure? Well… waiting for your e-mail!