Impact Capital Measurement

Approaches to Measuring the Social Impact of Program-Related Investments

Philanthropic institutions are increasingly interested in measuring the social impact of their investments. As the philanthropic sector considers how to measure the social impact of its mission investments and especially program-related investments (PRIs), it may be helpful for them to do three things:

  1. Identify and review the leading and promising approaches to measuring the social impact of PRIs;
  2. Analyze the relative strengths and weaknesses of these approaches and identify any cross-cutting issues; and
  3. Understand how these examples and insights can inform the philanthropic sector’s explorations about measuring the social impact of PRIs.

This report describes five different foundations' approaches to measuring the social impact of PRIs. In addition, it reviews three other approaches to measuring the social impact of other impact investments that may be relevant to foundations. The purpose of profiling and analyzing these approaches is not to choose the right one, for there is no perfect methodology. Rather, it is to present some possibilities for thinking about measuring the social impact of program-related investments. These approaches provide different perspectives on how to measure social impact and illustrate the limitations related to measurement efforts and the big picture challenges for the field.

This report shares some of the leading examples of measuring the social impact of PRIs in the social sector.