Social Impact Assessment - Based on social impact assessment projects among nonprofit organisations

Csaba Bakó


The emergence of Social Impact Measurement dates back to the 1970-ies. In the US, initially the intent was to map the impact of major projects on the population, the employment, and housing. In the following decades, the scope and the time frame of considered impacts increased, along with the number of users. In Anglo-Saxon countries, a broad range of NGOs are familiar with these methodologies, and the result-based operation of their sponsored NGOs became a key consideration for their donors too.

Although the literature of social impact assessment became available in Hungary during the last one-and-half decade, we still cannot view it as general practice; our experiences show that NGOs mostly focus on satisfaction at most, and the number of those who systematically evaluate short- and long-term impact is minimal. Though the current study does not provide comprehensive instructions in methodology, my objective is to present a detailed and practical overview of the concept, its aims, and methods, illustrated with real-life examples for better understanding. My intent is to offer meaningful support for leaders of organizations, to help them make well-grounded decisions on impact assessment questions through raising awareness to basic methodology elements. Social impact measurement can be an important tool to improve professional outcomes of NGOs and to increase their fundraising ability.

Keywords: impact assessment, stakeholders, theory of change, outcome, impact, Social Return on Investment (SROI), impact of volunteering, case studies