Over the days of the 12th to the 14th of June 2019, Caritas Europa had the opportunity to organize a training on “Social Impact Measurement”. The training tool place at the Congregación de Religiosas de la Asunción at Calle Olivos in Madrid, Spain with the support of Caritas Española, distinguished trainers and participants from all around Europe (for a full program you can click on the following link : Σύνδεσμος 1 – Πρόγραμμα Σεμιναρίου).
More specifically, the participants who have followed the training course have come from a number of national Caritas organizations (namely Caritas Austria, Caritas Georgia, Caritas Hellas, Caritas Italy, Caritas Kielce – Poland, Caritas Montenegro, Caritas Portugal, Caritas Spain, Caritas Ukraine, Caritas Vienna).
All the participants have been involved with social economy through a variety of different enterprises (i.e. Magdas, Fa Bene, etc.), programs (i.e. Elba, Your Job, etc.), initiatives/organizations (Caritas Europa task force for Social Economy, other European networks / umbrella institutions) and have been explicitly involved in various direct and indirect ways with the assessment of Social Impact at their work.
As far as the program of the training is concerned, Dr. Georg Mildenberger, a distinguished professor and head of research at the Centre for Social Investment and Innovations at Heidelberg University, has facilitated the learning process on the subject matter of Social Impact Measurement, over the first two days of our training (To fully view the presentation of Dr. Mildenberger You can click on the following link : Σύνδεσμος 2 – Παρουσίαση Mildenberger). On the last day of the training and with the facilitation of Mr. Antonio Fantasia, we had the opportunity to be engaged in truly fruitful dialogues, drawing from the presentations of invited eminent speakers from the sector, before the final evaluation, reflection and future planning sessions.
More specifically, the training has started by getting to know the different participants, their interest and involvement with the assessment of social impact. This has given us an overview of the different realms and settings that our fellow Caritas colleagues are confronted with on a daily basis and has brought into light the different subdivisions of social and humanitarian work that Caritas organizations are involved with at an international level, where the assessment of social impact is increasingly becoming a prerequisite and an indicator of high quality work and professionalism.
As such, on the first day of the training, the focus was put on exploring basic concepts of impact assessment/measurement, along with addressing key questions with regards to the “whys” and the “hows” of doing an impact assessment. Getting some hands-on experience and discussing concrete examples of impact-oriented reporting has proven to align in good complementarity with the general purpose of the training objectives and the expectations of the participants.
The second day of the training began with introducing to the participants of the group the Theory of Change (TOC) as a core concept and a starting point for impact analysis, through which, they could appreciate further the importance of impact measurement for strategic planning, controlling and development of organizations and projects.
Towards this end, detailed input analyses were conducted, alongside with stakeholder mapping activities, drawing from real examples from the everyday working life of the participants organizations/projects (e.g. Caritas Portugal: Caritas model as an Enabler / Caritas Italiana: The model of Local Development Work). These experiences were discussed on plenary exchange presentations with the rest of the group where context-specific conclusions were drawn for each case.
The above method was been of special importance, since via this process, the participants of the training, were able to better appreciate how TOC and stakeholder mapping can help in developing the indicators for impact measurement. Furthermore, it has been a excellent opportunity to discuss on the ways in which impact measurement can be used inside an organisation but also towards the public audience, the donors, the impact investors and/or other public authorities.
The training day was closed with a reflection on the different topics coved through the day, the pros and the cons when considering conducting an impact measurement and the realization of the inherent and pragmatic limitations present when measuring and assessing the social impact of a project or an organization, irrespectively of the level of depth/analysis, the methodology to be followed and/or the impact model to be addressed.
The last day of the training has carried a distinct importance for the participants of the group as it was a unique opportunity to listen to and to discuss with the invited speakers, coming from key positions in prominent organizations, a number of issues that were of common concern to the group. More specifically, the presentations upon which further reflections and discussions were elaborated, have been focusing on the following perspectives:
- Social Impact measurement – the perspective of a network of Social economy enterprises (Aicha Belassir, Technical Director at FAEDEI – (for the full view of the presentation, you can click on the following link – Σύνδεσμος 3-Παρουσίαση Faedei) and
- Social Impact measurement – the perspective of a venture philanthropy association (Lara Viada, principal at CREAS) (For a full view of the presentation, you can click on the following link : Σύνδεσμος 4- Παρουσίαση CREAS)
Following to the vivid discussions that have unravelled, the participants were asked to reflect on and evaluate the training they have received, along with the ways in which they could bring forward the lessons learnt, to their own organizations. In addition, special attention was put on the kind of follow up activities that would be required with regards to continuing the work that has begun and which was highly valued by all the participants of the training.
The remarks made by the participants of the group have been listened to carefully and have been noted down, so that they can inform the future course of action for Caritas Europa in this field.
Consequently, the coordination and facilitation of the necessary processes from the behalf of Caritas Europa on that matter is vital, if we are to accredit and invest on the importance that social impact has to our organizations. It is, after all, a reflection of our work and an effective way to measure, assess and communicate to others the values and efforts that inspire and motivate our everyday work.
On a concluding note we would like to frankly thank the organizers our hosts in Caritas Europa and Caritas Spain for taking the initiate and the effort and bringing to life such a wonderful training event that was well organized and complete in every way. We sincerely hope that this opportunity becomes the cause for a continued constructive dialogue and encourage our follow colleagues to be further involved with the issue.