Economic and social impact

economic-social-impactAssessing the economic impact of third sector organisations is a key research priority for TSRC. It has a particular focus on the role that third sector organisations (TSOs) play in delivering public services and contributing to general community wellbeing.

Key questions

  • How can we compare and combine economic and social impact?
  • How effective are existing tools for impact assessment within TSOs?
  • How can we define and measure the added value of third sector activity?
  • How can aggregate measures of impact be developed?

Current work

We have been reviewing a wide range of existing methods and tools for measuring impact within TSOs including Social Return on Investment (SROI), blended impact measures and other adaptations of cost/benefit analysis. See working paper 49: the ambitions and challenges of SROI .

Our research explores the practices and motivations for impact assessment. See paper 66: Impact measurement as an entrepreneurial process.

Further fieldwork is now underway to explore the use of different forms of impact measurement by TSOs, and to what extent these are also utilised in the commissioning process for public services.

We are also conducting sector wide analysis of the economic impact of third sector activity and its contribution to the wider economy, including analysis of workforce trends , volunteering and third sector value. Our service delivery research looks at the impact of the third sector in different service areas.

We are also developing quantitative measures of aggregate impact and will utilise existing datasets to explore the operationalisation of these.

Next steps

  • Quantitative analysis of income, workforce and volunteering
  • Critical assessment of classic economic tools including cost analysis, cost benefit analysis, cost utility analysis and cost effectiveness analysis
  • Development and operationalisation of aggregate measures of value
  • Exploration of the use of different methods for impact measurement
  • Commissioners’ understanding of impact measurement