Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Social Capital index

I just got updated news that and GoodCapital, the two social capital organizations that gave us SoCap08 have moved the Social Capital Index to its own site with its own team. You can find it here. As the site managers point out:
"Another constant theme [of SoCap08] was the need for more tracking of the space, its funds and enterprises, and their social impact and blended returns. In short, the need for the Social Capital Index was quite clear, and we were very pleased by how our initiative was received."
The index joins my growing list of enterprises/products/services that track/measure/quantify/index social value. The blog post on Information Markets is generating some good discussion, part of which I'll post below so you can jump in with your perspective.

Before I do that, however, let me paste in the list with some important additions. Here's the latest list, now numbering over 30 efforts (please add in those I'm missing):

Newest additions:
And here are some points pulled out from the comments section on the original post:

"...I agree when you wrote that there isn't shortage of metrics, but there is a lack of comprehensive ones; it seems as though many non-profits are not seeing the value in long-term measurement of effectiveness. How do you suggest a standard of consistency is made in metrics among non-profits? Your list is up to 31 players now, how does a regular donor weigh importance of the information they are provided (good v. bad non-profit based on the evaluator’s definition of effectiveness) among all these groups without spending hours searching on each page?"

"...This is a helpful chronicle of what is out there. It is still pretty messy and will be until someone--or a group of institutions and individuals--hit on a sit of metrics that helps inform real decision making, whether that it is allocation of capital within an organization or funding across organizations. ...I personally don't lament the duplication, redundancy, divergence, etc as I think that is the sign of a healthy and creative time during which new ideas will hopefully improve on their predecessors."

"... I agree with your point about duplication, in fact I'd go beyond not lamenting it to modify it as follows - in any industry, in any product, in any field the "... duplication, redundancy, divergence, etc..." is [a] sign of a healthy and creative time during which new ideas will hopefully improve on their predecessors."

There is, however, the difference between serving the needs of individual organizations that make funding decisions and serving the needs of donors and others trying to make funding decisions. In philanthropy - where sharing ideas about what works is crucial to 1) influencing where dollars go and 2) addressing any of the social concerns we care about on a scale that can be meaningful, the investments in measures/data/indices etc are almost the "backbone" of a more informed and effective capital system.

What I think is possible here is something between independent "creativity and exploration" and "top down" directives - but that will allow for multiple meaningful measures to be developed AND for the world of potential users of those metrics to see that menu as it develops, choose from among its many items, and in fact, inform the development and application of new measures/metrics/data systems/indices. Getting the "crowd" involved is critical - as informants, decision makers, users. And right now, the only systems we have that reach any kind of crowd are Guidestar and Charity Navigator, both of which have proven there are millions of people who want better information and will use it, and neither of which have yet been able to offer the first slice of such information. So we have better information, being developed and tested in small batches (effectively in secret from the market of potential users) and delivery systems that do reach the broader market but are not yet delivering the best possible thinking on the subject of measuring social impact. What an incredible opportunity for the field!"

Thanks for reading. Please jump into the comment thread here or on this post, help us build a comprehensive list, join the discussion on the Information Markets paper. And take a minute to give thanks for something. (if you want to be socially media thankful, check out tweetsgiving - it may not be the most strategic giving, but it might make you smile.) Happy Thanksgiving.

1 comment:

Su said...

This is such a great resource also for our work in Europa and especially Germany at the moment. For your information: ideas are in the making in Germany for a Social Marketplace or a german/european Social Stock exchange. The Genisis Institute, GEXSCI and other interested players (such as myself for example) are really thinking about metrics, strategies etc. We will keep you posted.