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Using Impact Measurement to Advance the Sustainable Development Goals

By July 9, 2020

By: Brian Komar, Vice President, Global Impact Engagement,
Marco van der Ree, Chief Development Officer, GRI
Peter Paul van de Wijs, Chief External Affairs Officer, GRI
Rhonda Evans, Senior Manager, Monitor Institute by Deloitte

The last few weeks and months have been among the most challenging in recent memory. While recent reports show progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are behind target and the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating inequalities worldwide. One area where we see hope and opportunity is around impact management. Across sectors, efforts to deliver greater accountability by building impact management capacity are gaining momentum.

In December, co-hosted Impact Measurement Today (IMT), with the Monitor Institute by Deloitte and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The meeting covered opportunities to advance impact management and SDG reporting across sectors. Here are some key takeaways from the event to help your organization build long-term impact management capacity.

Impact Measurement Today event

The Impact Measurement Today event was held December 12-13th, 2019 at the Salesforce Tower in New York. Co-hosts pictured here include Brian Komar from; Rhonda Evans from Monitor Institute by Deloitte; and Marco van der Ree from GRI.

Why is Impact Management Gaining Momentum?

Whether your interest is advancing stakeholder capitalism, impact investing, social enterprises, or philanthropic endeavors, impact management is where the rubber meets the road. Impact management refers to the set of competencies and practices used to gauge the quantifiable difference one is making in the world–positive or negative, intended or unintended.

Impact management is central to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) reporting, which is the drive for companies to share with key stakeholders the measures of their non-financial performance alongside financial performance; and the movement is growing. Impact management is also high on the radar of leaders and managers in civil society and the public sector who want to know their organization’s work is making a positive and quantifiable difference. Finally, the impact investment industry is adopting impact management at an accelerating rate.

Despite different motivations, the commitment to impact management is growing across every sector and the primary driver is greater accountability. Foundations and NGOs are driven to demonstrate evidence of real progress with the individuals and communities they serve. University administrators seek proof of return on growing educational investments. Corporations wish to make their values meaningful by demonstrating impact with various stakeholders. Government desires stronger accountability for how it spends taxpayer dollars. Social entrepreneurs and impact investors are laser-focused on proving hybrid balancing between financial and social returns.

Building Capacity for Impact Management

Steps to build capacity for impact management

What does the drive to build capacity for impact management have in common across different sectors? The Impact Measurement Today event identified six key areas of opportunity for cross-sector work to build capacity.

Critical to achieving the SDGs is the ability to direct capital, whether through investments or grants, to high-value SDG solutions. Common approaches to impact management across sectors enable capital and resources to more easily flow across sectors–from foundations to nonprofits, impact investors to social enterprises, and corporations to philanthropy. Sectors working collaboratively on shared approaches to impact management will accelerate measurement and progress toward achieving the SDGs.

  1. Skills: Developing skills and human capacity for impact management within organizations, across multiple roles
  2. Awareness: Educating key actors about the potential for impact management to drive social change
  3. Impact Data and Tech Solutions: Supporting tools to increase the quantity, quality, and interoperability of impact data
  4. Impact Standardization: Driving greater alignment across impact data standards
  5. Policy: Harnessing policy and regulation to help drive greater impact disclosure and reporting
  6. Ethical Use of Impact Data: Assuring that protections and accountability for impact data usage, privacy, ownership, and other ethical concerns are integrated

As organizations look to strengthen impact management, these six areas provide a framework to build out impact management capacity. Create an impact measurement benchmark that inventories relevant organization data and outlines current impact management skills within your organization. Identify your current level of executive buy-in and look for sweet spots across other levels of your organization in need of impact data and evidence. Map your organization’s impact to leading standards and the SDGs and follow best practices to ensure you’re advancing your impact management practices in ethical and responsible ways. Above all, get started. The time is now to elevate impact management on your agenda., the Monitor Institute by Deloitte, and GRI will continue to work together and independently to advance this discussion and shape the impact management journey.

To learn more, check out the white paper Impact Measurement Today: A Joint Roadmap for Capacity Building.

About the Authors

Brian Komar, Vice President of Global Impact Engagement at

Brian Komar

Brian is Vice President of Global Impact Engagement at where he leads the efforts to help NGOs, EDUs, and corporate social impact officers measure, manage, report, and improve their social impact. His career at Salesforce spans more than 8 years, with previous roles leading global marketing and public sector industry solutions.

Marco van der Ree, Chief Development Officer at GRI

Marco van der Ree

Marco van der Ree, Chief Development Officer, leads GRI’s work to diversify and implement the organization’s fundraising strategy and oversee outreach to institutional, foundation, and public donors. Marco has more than 20 years’ experience with international organizations, in partnership building, fundraising, conference organization, campaign delivery, and program management all related to sustainable development.

Peter Paul van de Wijs, Chief External Affairs Officer at GRI

Peter Paul van de Wijs

As head of GRI’s External Affairs team, Peter Paul is responsible for driving effective advocacy for GRI, developing and implementing GRI’s global internal and external communications strategy, and maintaining the external relations. In addition to leading his own business, Peter Paul has held executive positions at the LEGO Foundation and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Rhonda Evans, Senior Manager with Monitor Institute by Deloitte

Rhonda Evans

Rhonda Evans is a Senior Manager with Monitor Institute by Deloitte, a social impact practice that pioneers breakthrough approaches to addressing social and environmental challenges. Rhonda co-leads its Impact Measurement Program, which helps organizations more effectively use data to assess and improve the impact of their work.