Measuring Social Programs
Social programs provide solutions to social problems, usually resulting from market failures. These social programs are carried out by social organizations, either governmental, quasi-governmental, NGO, or even private, which often attract a combination of public and philanthropic funds to carry out their work. While these social organizations are often described by the good work they do, it is becoming increasingly common to identify the economic value of their work, represented by measurable outcomes. The measurement of these outcomes can be organized, monetized, and leveraged to attract new types of support – the social investors.
This research addresses this opportunity – how to identify measurable outcomes in a range of social programs, and how to translate those outcomes into meaningful economic terms that may be used to attract new and more investors to bring solutions to social problems.
The translation of business-like measures includes effectiveness, efficiency, innovation, impact, leverage, scalability, and return on investment. Once these measures are operationally defined, information to inform each can be collected, analyzed, and reported to provide a broader picture of the social program. These measures can become basis for comparison of alternative social investments (and solutions), and a justification for leveraging additional investment. Investors, including government, philanthropy, and private investors can receive the type of information they need in the way they need it to make decisions about their investment decisions.