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World Metrics Day: Our Annual Celebration of Social Metrics

It seems like it was just yesterday that we celebrated the 2nd Annual World Metrics Day. But here we are again, on June 16th, celebrating loudly and proudly the enormous potential value that metrics can play in the impact investing field.

What started out two years ago as a tongue-in-cheek nod to all those seeking to promote social metrics has turned into an annual opportunity for us to pause and take of stock of where we have come from and how much work we still have ahead of us.

While determining and analyzing meaningful social metrics is no easy task, we recognize they are a vital component, in conjunction with qualitative assessments, of figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

Last year, on World Metrics Day, we announced that Pulse – the tool we developed to track the social, operational, and financial data of our investee companies – was now available for use by organizations across our sector through our partnership with Application Experts.  A year later, over 50 social investors, foundations and operating non-profits have adopted Pulse, with nearly two-thirds of them taking advantage of the Salesforce.com Foundation’s free licenses for non-profits.

Furthermore, many of these organizations are using Pulse to align their metrics tracking with IRIS, the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards. IRIS provides a common language for investors and social enterprises in defining social metrics. On the eve of World Metrics Day, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is producing their first industry report. With submissions from 7 impact investing funds, representing nearly 500 social enterprises, this report will enable, for the first time, the type of benchmarking and aggregation that is a staple of traditional markets, but has been lacking in the emerging asset class that is impact investing. Scheduled to be previewed at next week’s annual ANDE Metrics Conference, the report will be broadly available in early July.

Based on early previews of the report, we’re excited to see the early fruits of our labor. Our goal of building a framework for social metrics that is as refined and useful as that for financial metrics is finally coming into focus. Today, on World Metrics Day, we pause to celebrate these efforts. And at the same time, we recognize that with data from just 7 impact investing funds, we are just scratching the surface of the potential robust analytics that will come from the comprehensive industry data set that we envision in years ahead.

The momentum built since the first World Metrics Day undeniably has us on the path we optimistically white-boarded several years ago. We are confident that these early results we are seeing today are going to be key cornerstones in building truly necessary and enabling infrastructure for this sector.

Happy World Metrics Day. And as always, remember… Count something, and make it count!

Brad Presner is Metrics Manager at Acumen Fund.

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