Measuring Impact Progress with an Impact Milestone

Financial break-even is an important business milestone, particularly for start-up organizations.  An impact enterprise should also have an impact milestone, tied to its mission statement.

There are a number of benefits to having a clearly defined impact milestone:

  • Clearly define what success means from a social/environmental standpoint,
  • Focus the organization on activities that support the mission,
  • Track progress towards the mission, and force an ongoing reassessment of activities being taken,
  • Provide clarity as you work to align social impact and financial results,
  • Promote the organization’s progress to internal and external stakeholders.

How do we define the impact milestone?

  • The impact milestone should be aligned to the mission statement.  As discussed in a prior blog, the mission statement briefly describes how you satisfy a customer’s need.  In the case of an impact enterprise, this is a social or environmental need.
  • The impact milestone should signify reaching a tipping point in terms of meeting the mission, much as a financial break-even signifies proof of the financial model.  A construction material recycling center might start by asking questions that define its outreach and impact in the community, e.g.:  What % of construction firms in the community are aware of and use our services?  What % of home owners contacts us before starting demolition?  How many unique customers come through our doors?  What % of visitors purchases what they came for?
  • The impact milestone should be easy to understand and based on data that’s relatively simple to collect.
  • The impact milestone should be meaningful as a way of showing appropriate progress towards the organization’s mission.
  • Once an impact milestone is defined, define the specific amount that represents a meaningful impact.  For example, 50% of construction firms that worked in the community over the past year have contacted the construction material recycler prior to demolition.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the impact milestone quite right immediately.  Just having the internal and external discussion on what it should be can have very powerful effects on the ability of the organization to move in the right direction.