WDI Team to Share Impact Measurement Insights with Investors, Enterprises

Monday, February 26, 2018

Image credit: Dani Cowan/Supply Hope


A new case study authored by WDI’s Performance Measurement Initiative (PMI) that gives advice to impact investors and investees on new and emerging ways to strengthen their impact measurement practices will be released at two major, international conferences this week.

The case, “Accelerating Measurement within Impact Investing: Five Critical Lessons,” will be shared with attendees at the Latin American Impact Investing Forum (FLII) in Merida, Mexico and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) “Metrics from the Ground Up” conference in Nairobi, Kenya. It tracks the WDI team as it pilot-tested its new impact measurement framework with three social enterprises in Nicaragua, Brazil and Peru, and provides recommendations to strengthen the impact measurement practices of investors as well as the enterprises they support.

“We are excited to release the case study at these conferences because the five key lessons will be familiar to many in attendance, and may provide useful insights to related measurement challenges they are facing,” said Heather Esper, senior program manager for PMI. “At the FLII event, the attendees will be impact investors or those working with them. The report, which we’re also releasing in Spanish, will be directly relatable to them and provide guidance on how to address key obstacles they encounter when trying to measure the ‘impact’ in impact investing.”

Esper will be joined at the FLII event by Diana Paez, director of WDI’s Grants Management department, to meet with potential partners who are interested in carrying out work similar to the  pilot projects featured in the report.

PMI Program Manager Yaquta Kanchwala Fatehi will participate in the ANDE conference, where presenters and the audience will share experiences about different approaches to evaluation, the challenges each approach presents and building bridges between different approaches.

“We will also look to identify potential strategies to address those challenges in the different contexts where participants have done measurement and evaluation,” Fatehi said.

WDI’s case study comes at an opportune time as the call for better impact measurement grows globally. A December 2017 ANDE report found that more than half of the  member organizations they surveyed have no full-time staff person dedicated to measurement. Additionally, nearly all respondents spent less than 5 percent of their annual budget on measurement.

Similarly, in a recent report by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) many survey respondents said measurement issues, as opposed to management concerns, were a big challenge. In the GIIN survey, 43 percent of respondents cited significant challenges in collecting quality data, while 32 percent said aggregating, analyzing, and/or interpreting data across a portfolio was a problem for them.  

For WDI’s report, the PMI team identified five valuable lessons they learned from working on the three pilots. They are summarized in the table below.


Recommended activity Value for Impact Investors and Social Enterprises
Use standard indicators, not standard measures Contextualize data collection to ensure accurate data
Use a Theory of Change Articulate impact, decide what to measure, assign indicators
Support M&E capacity building techniques Speak the same language, conduct M&E without external teams, maintain sustainable M&E practices
Mix social outcomes with key business performance indicators Strengthen mission and ability to scale
Foster a senior-level staff as a M&E champion Help facilitate embedding of data collection into existing business processes


Rebecca Baylor, a PMI research associate, said the recent reports highlighted the need for businesses and impact investors to reconsider and re-energize how to incorporate measurement into their own practices.

“Our team is excited to engage in that conversation by sharing experiences from our own work,” she said. “Our case study not only speaks to the struggles of individual businesses but also generalizes findings about how to incorporate measurement at scale across multiple similar enterprises.”

(Note: The case study is available in English and  Spanish.)

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