Giving Compass’ Take:
• Paul Brest reviews Alnoor Ebrahim’s Measuring Social Change and notes that the book presents a thought-provoking framework for categorizing and implementing performance management strategies for social change.
• The author provides practitioners with a valuable framework for measuring and managing social change and sets an agenda for future research in the field.
The title of Alnoor Ebrahim’s important Measuring Social Change understates the scope of his thesis. It is a work on managing social change—highly readable, engaging, and illustrated by rich in-depth case studies. The book presents a novel and thought-provoking framework for categorizing and implementing performance management strategies based on the causal relationship between an organization’s activities and outcomes and on its control over those outcomes.
Measuring Social Change addresses an issue that has been a matter of great confusion in the nonprofit sector: the distinction between causal analysis based on “attribution” and “contribution.”
As background for discussing Ebrahim’s thesis, let me define the key elements of a program strategy: Activities are what an organization does; outputs are what it delivers to its beneficiaries; and outcomes are what happen as a result of its activities and outputs. There are two categories of outcomes: ultimate outcomes, which are improvements in the beneficiaries’ well-being; and intermediate outcomes, which are typically changes in the behavior of beneficiaries or other people that lead to the ultimate outcomes. An organization’s theory of change describes the path from activities and outputs to intermediate and ultimate outcomes. An intervention has impact to the extent that it caused or contributed to the intended outcome.
Read the full article about measuring and managing social change performance by Paul Brest at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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