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Impacting Responsibly

It starts with a simple question: how do we know if organizations are truly creating positive change?

There is an increasing push for organizations to collect and report on their impact using data. However, for impact data to truly give us greater insight and confidence in how we’re making the world a better place, we must ensure that we manage impact data responsibly.

This is where Impacting Responsibly comes in.

Impacting Responsibly ReportThis report is designed to help those seeking to measure social impact do so in a responsible manner. This report was sponsored by Candid (formerly Guidestar), the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, New Philanthropy Capital and

Leading influencers were asked to address nine themes:
1. Impact Capacity Building
2. Impact Frameworks and Standards
3. Constituent Feedback
4. Current Reporting Burden
5. Resource Inequities
6. Impact Data Ownership
7. Roles & Responsibilities
8. Collaboration
9. Limits of Quantitative Evidence

We hope this report will spark discussions among those involved in the collection, interpretation, and consumption of impact data. It is of the utmost importance that we measure our impact responsibly. The individuals and communities we’re seeking to empower are depending on it.

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Impacting Responsibly

Theme 1: Impact Capacity Building

Should all organizations use data to provide evidence of their impact? We believe firmly in the use of evidence of impact. Yet, should every organization be required to provide evidence that they are impactful? What should the quality of the evidence be? Should we have different expectations of organizations of different sizes? The conversation of expectations is an important and nuanced one. It is important that we hold organizations to certain expectations, but those expectations need to be realistic and achievable.

In this section we invited Brad Dudding, Beverly Parsons, and Janice Noga to respond with their reflections on the need to build capacity around impact measurement.


Brad Dudding

Brad Dudding, Chief Impact Officer, Center for Employment Opportunities

Beverly Parsons and Janice Noga

Beverly Parsons, Executive Director, InSites and Janice Noga, Owner, Pathfinder Evaluation & Consulting

Theme 2: Impact Frameworks and Standards

Jeremy Nicholls

Jeremy Nicholls, Founder, Social Value UK

One of the main challenges facing the adoption of impact data is the standardization of impact data. To become a sector that is focused on impact and outcomes, we must develop shared understandings of how impact data is packaged and utilized. This kind of interoperability is the necessary foundation for not just using impact data one by one but transforming the sector.

In this section, we invited Deborah L. Rugg, Nina R. Sabarre, Sara Peters, Kevin Rafter, and Jeremy Nicholls to discuss their perspectives and experiences helping develop standards, frameworks, and taxonomies.


Deborah Rugg and Nina R. Sabarre

Deborah Rugg, Lead Faculty, Claremont Evaluation Center-NY and Nina R. Sabarre, Founder & Principal, Intention 2 Impact

Kevin Rafter and Sara Peters

Kevin Rafter, Senior Evidence Director, Project Evident and Sara Peters, Senior Director of Policy & Evidence, Project Evident

Theme 3: Constituent Feedback

Dennis Whittle

Dennis Whittle, CEO/Co-Founder, Feedback Labs

More and more, organizations are turning to their constituents to provide feedback on the services they are receiving. This movement towards further including constituents and beneficiaries in the work is a movement in the right direction. How should this then be reflected in the way our organizations frame and measure impact?

We invited Dennis Whittle, Brian Walsh, and Ben Goodwin to share their experiences of incorporating constituent feedback into their impact data.


Brian Walsh

Brian Walsh, Head of Impact, Liquidnet, Inc.

Ben Goodwin

Ben Goodwin, Executive Director, Our House

Theme 4: Current Reporting Burden

The current reporting relationship between funders and grantees has been declared burdensome by many institutions. Many funders are seeking to change the reporting relationship they have with their grantees and these changes often center around innovative uses of data.

We invited Andrew Means, Jane Reisman, and Veronica Olazabal to share their experiences on reporting burden.


Andrew Means

Andrew Means, Co-Founder & VP of Strategy, BrightHive

Veronica Olazabal and Jane Reisman

Veronica Olazabal, Director, Measurement, Evaluation & Organizational Performance, The Rockefeller Foundation and Jane Reisman, Founder & Senior Advisor, ORS Impact

Theme 5: Resource Inequities

One of the common pushbacks to the adoption and use of more data in the sector is that small organizations are unable to collect and share data. In this section, we are seeking to examine whether that is indeed true and what possible benefits a more data-driven sector might bring to impactful smaller organizations.

We invited Keely Hanson from the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy to share her thoughts on resource inequities concerning impact measurement.


Keely Hanson

Keely Hanson, Policy Associate,
Urban Institute Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Theme 6: Impact Data Ownership

As more data is being collected and generated by the social sector, we must ask ourselves, who owns all of this data? What does data ownership mean in this context? As the social sector, we have values that differ from the private sector, and how we think about data ownership should reflect our values and not simply adopt the values of others.

We invited Tris Lumley, David Goodman, and Natalie Evans Harris to share their experiences on data ownership.


Tris Lumley

Tris Lumley, Director of Innovation & Development,
New Philanthropy Capital

Natalie Evans Harris and David Goodman

Natalie Evans Harris, Co-Founder & Head of Strategic Initiatives, BrightHive and David Goodman, VP of Ecosystem Development, BrightHive

Theme 7: Roles & Responsibilities

In the social sector, there are currently few incentives for using evidence to show impact. How might we create a sector where there are incentives for using evidence? How can we create a world where dollars follow evidence?

We invited Kathy Richardson and John Gargani to share their perspectives on the roles and responsibilities needed to create such a sector.


John Gargani and Kathy Richardson

John Gargani, President, Gargani + Company
and Kathy Richardson, Executive Director, Our Community

Theme 8: Collaboration

As a sector, we often seek to work together more collaboratively, but the concrete benefits of collaboration aren’t always clear. It feels like the right thing to do, but how will it help us be more impactful? In this section, we have invited people to think about what can be learned about impact in collaboration that cannot be learned in isolation.

We have invited Chantal Forster and Jeff Edmondson to offer their perspectives on the importance of collaboration in impact measurement.


Jeff Edmondson, Executive Director-Community Mobilization, Ballmer Group and
Chantal Forster, Executive Director, Technology Affinity Group

Theme 9: Limits of Quantitative Evidence

Data is an important part of the social sector’s future; yet we must be very clear about what data can and cannot achieve. Far too often, “data” efforts fail because they are actually asking data to do something it was not meant to do. Understanding the limits of quantitative evidence, including their ability to persuade real humans to action, is important when thinking about what data might do for your organization.

We invited Eric Barela to provide his perspective on the limits of quantitative evidence.


Eric Barela

Eric Barela, Director, Measurement & Evaluation,

If you would like more information on the Impacting Responsibly report or if you would like to contribute an additional chapter to the report, please contact Andrew Means ([email protected]) or Eric Barela ([email protected]).

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This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the individual chapter authors and contributors, and not necessarily to the report’s sponsors or any other group or individual.