When Public and Private Interests Coexist: How to Measure Social Impact of B corporations and Social Entrepreneuship Ventures?

Session Number: 2728
Track: Costs, Effectiveness, Benefits, and Economics
Session Type: Panel
Tags: accountabilty, aid effectiveness, analytics, applied research in social sciences, Business management, Common Metrics, community change, Contribution analysis, Criteria and Standards, effectiveness, Evaluation methods, evaluation tools, evaluative criteria, Governance, Grants, Impact Assessment, Interdisciplinary, International development, methods, Metrics, non-profits, Performance measurement, philanthropy, Principles, pro-poor development, public sector services, social enterprise, stakeholder involvement approaches, transparency
Session Chair: Veronica M Olazabal [Senior Associate Director, Evaluation - The Rockefeller Foundation]
Presenter 1: Jennifer Wolfe Johnson [Program Associate, Evidence for Policy Design's India Programs - Evidence for Policy Design]
Presenter 2: Dale Miller Hill [Senior Consultant - Independent]
Presentation 1 Additional Author: Dale Miller Hill [Senior Consultant - Independent]
Presentation 2 Additional Author: Jennifer Wolfe Johnson [Program Associate, Evidence for Policy Design's India Programs - Evidence for Policy Design]
Session Facilitator: Veronica M Olazabal [Senior Associate Director, Evaluation - The Rockefeller Foundation]
First Author or Discussion Group Leader: Dale Miller Hill [Senior Consultant - Independent]
Second Author or Discussion Group Leader: Jennifer Wolfe Johnson [Program Associate, Evidence for Policy Design's India Programs - Evidence for Policy Design]
Time: Oct 27, 2016 (08:00 AM - 09:30 AM)
Room: A702

Other Authors: Jen Johnson
Abstract 1 Title: The World of B corporations and Social Entrepreneurs: Who are they and What Makes Them Tick?
Presentation Abstract 1:

Social entrepreneurs aim to improve service delivery for poor communities by using market mechanisms and smart business planning. B corporations are new legal entities allowed in 31 states (with similar forms in UK and British Columbia) that allow for dual goals of profit and social impact. B Lab in Pennsylvania leads a rigorous certification process for B corporations, based on its own set of criteria, and references those set by the Global Reporting Initiative. The presenter will report findings of her literature search, which cover: a) a profile of B corporations, and the types of social goals they pursue; and b) comments of analysts from many professions on the enabling environment for accurate and sound reporting on social impact by B corporations. The literature search has validated the researchers’ assumption that the tools for evaluating social impact of B corporations can benefit from further input from the evaluation profession.


Abstract 2 Title: Improving Measurement and Reporting on Social Impact of B corporations and Social Entrepreneurship Ventures
Presentation Abstract 2:

The researchers received a grant to explore ways to improve measurement of social impact of B corporations. On request, the researchers also assessed whether the OECD-DAC criteria were robust enough to apply to B corporations. The researchers noted a conceptual and empirical gap between the current criteria and methods used and the way impact is reported, and those optimal for accountability to the public. Building on background provided in the last presentation, this one covers: the dialogue with B Lab managers; certification criteria and strengths and weaknesses of impact measurement methods; issues in reporting, and areas for further analysis. The critique of B-Lab’s criteria was based on taking their certification test, interviewing a B-corps founder, and applying sound evaluation theory. Conclusions are that improvement is possible in both the B Lab and OECD-DAC criteria and in B Lab reporting, with much potential for professional evaluators to bridge the gaps. 


Audience Level: All Audiences
Learning Outcomes: --The growing relevance of social entrepreneurship ventures (SEVs) & more recently recognized legal forms such as Benefit corporations & certified B corps (a new type of evaluand);
--Issues in evaluating their social impact: pluses & minuses of screening criteria of selected certification bodies & limitations of OECD-DAC criteria as applied to B corps;
--Fruitful areas for further research and the potential contributions the evaluation profession can offer to B corps & certification organizations to improve measurement and reporting.
Facilitation Experience: Considering presentations, workshops, and thinktanks, I have presented over 8 times at professional conferences, including American Evaluation Association, Australasian Evaluation Association (plenary speaker) and Second World Humanitarian Forum.I have not presented on this particular topic before; the research was recently completed this year.

Session Abstract: 

The last decade has seen an experimentation with mixed business models which  combine pursuit of profit (or at least financial sustainability) with altruistic goals. There is a spectrum of models between the pure corporation seeking to increase profit and shareholder value,  and the pure non-profit organization which uses various  revenue raising techniques to achieve social good. In the middle are B corporations—formal, legally registered entities which pursue dual profit and social goals—and social entrepreneurship ventures which aim to  improve public service delivery while using market –oriented incentives and pricing structures. The presenters received a FasterForward Fund grant to: a)  investigate how these organizations and the bodies that certify them measure and report on social impact; and b) offer improvements. The presenters believe that the evaluation profession has much to offer these organizations to help them stay relevant and accountable to the public they purport to serve.