Impact Compass

The Center for Social Innovation has examined the elements to consider when gauging impact, identified six key dimensions, and crafted a visual representation to explain them: The Impact Compass.

Practitioners can leverage the Impact Compass to answer questions like:

  • What job should I take to maximize my impact potential — that is, my potential to generate positive social impact?
  • Which deal will maximize the impact return of my investment dollars?
  • Which nonprofit will make the most of my donation?

Drawing on both the extensive literature of impact measurement and the expertise of academics and practitioners in social innovation, CSI’s Impact Compass helps conceptualize impact and provides the tools to assess the relative social impact potential of various organizations, programs, or start-up ventures.

The Impact Compass: The 6 Dimensions of Social Impact
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The Impact Compass: The 6 Dimensions of Social Impact
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A framework using the predictors of impact to assess the relative social impact potential of various interventions, organizations, or investments.

Interactive Impact Compass

Screen for Zeroing Factors

Six Dimensions of Impact

To what extent does the intended outcome deliver societal value?
How certain are we of the effects of the solution?
How meaningful is the magnitude of the intervention per person/unit?
How much of the affected population can this model address?
To what extent is the organization driving toward outcomes? Indicators demonstrating mission alignment include:
- A well-articulated theory of change
- A commitment to impact measurement and reporting
- Structural and capital choices that protect the mission
- Aligned economic and impact models
How does the organization perform in the following three dimensions?
- How does it impact society, including its employees, suppliers, clients, and the communities it operates in?
- How does it impact the natural environment, including the water, air, climate, wilderness habitat, ...?
- Is it governed with transparency and with concern for corruption and the law?

The lowest possible score is 1 and represents a society-positive intervention with limited potential. Most scores will fall between 40 and 64, representing potential in two or three dimensions. Scores higher than 200 signal truly transformational impact. The highest potential score — full marks in all dimensions — is 729. The results of this tool depend directly on your input and will vary based on the number of assumptions you make. The tool is flexible; it can support anything from a quick, gut-level assessment to a fully researched evaluation. Results depend on your inputs and are not recorded.