Going Deeper with Impact Measurement

Corporations and startup enterprises face increasing pressure to report on their social and environmental impacts — and many know that it’s good for their reputation too, not to mention the right thing to do. However, much of today’s impact reporting focuses on documenting the past, not predicting and managing risk for the future.

Most reporting falls under “environmental, social, and governance” (ESG) evaluation, using checklist-style standards to evaluate companies’ behavior. Another common evaluation is the B Labs assessment for what are known as “benefit corporations.” These approaches essentially require businesses to operate with a 2010s standard of decency — having women and people of color in leadership positions, being aware of how their supply chain affects workers and the environment.

These are truly important innovations in contemporary business, but what about the businesses who want to go beyond avoiding negative impact, and have an intentionally positive contribution to society and/or the environment?

At Ecotone, our goal is to measure those businesses’ positive contributions by:

  • Quantifying and projecting the potential value of an organization’s impact
  • Identifying the people and entities to whom the benefits accrue — whether that is society at large, a local government, or families and individuals
  • Assessing risk in the potential for unintended impacts

What does this look like in practice? Here’s an example of how we communicate an organization’s impact value, with info design by our partner Background Stories: 

impact value summary ecotone analytics
Impact Value Summary from our work with Better Futures Minnesota

We predict that once organizations have quantified and summarized their potential impact value, they will be able to communicate it as they seek funding, customers, and key partnerships.

Interested in learning more about how this works, and how it could work for your business? Contact Ecotone’s Ted Carling at ted@ecotone-partners.com.

Further reading:

The Investor’s Impact Matrix from the Impact Management Project: http://www.impactmanagementproject.com/investor-impact-matrix/

This framework is designed to help investors measure their portfolios’ effects on people and planet. It categorizes enterprises by whether they:

  • Avoid harm (also known as negative screening)
  • Benefit stakeholders (the typical ESG reporting approach)
  • Contribute to solutions