Impact investors love to talk about impact measurement. They talk about data management systems, and how it informs decision making, but, they talk far less about how they actually measure the inputs that are feeding their measurement and management systems.
This is where Huber Social comes in. Huber Social works with organisation to measure social impact, and they do it using a common yardstick, human wellbeing. They apply a standardised process to carrying out surveys, data is collected directly from the people who are being impacted. The result is a comparable data-set, across time, industry and geography.
“It’s about providing clarity to decision makers about the social impact ecosystem, and the rigor of different approaches. So that decision makers can match the rigour of the measurement, with the level of impact that they’re intending to have or having. Essentially, it’s about making sure measurement is fit for purpose.” Explains Georgina Camp, founder and Managing Director of Huber Social.
Working with social enterprises, not-for-profits and impact investors, they recognised that there was a gap in the social impact measurement process, that the data inputs, that must be taken at the source, were neither reliable nor consistent.
“In terms of the impact measurement and management ecosystem; as we explored what’s out there, we recognised a lot of the standardisation that exists is occurring at the management system level or the reporting level.” Georgina explains. “For example, The Impact Management Project (IMP) is providing consistency and standardisation about what you report on. But then there was still the missing piece on standardisation of how do you measure the inputs into the decisions and into the reporting.”
Impact Investment has long been criticised for putting too little emphasis on beneficiaires, and Huber social is showing that these deeper assessments can be done, at scale.
“So that’s where we’re really aiming to fill that gap and strengthen that space. And that’s where we fit into the whole ecosystem. So we’re not adding to the noise that’s out there, we’re filling a gap, and strengthening that.” Georgina says.
“Even the IMP includes principles say, include stakeholders, but it’s recognising that there’s a culturally safe way to do that, and ensuring you’re not imposing certain cultural norms. So it’s not enough just to tick a box saying; Yeah, we talked to the stakeholders, instead it’s asking, did they actually have agency, and did they help determine what success looks like? So it’s pushing for that next level of stakeholder engagement.”
Global Wellbeing Intelligence Platform
Huber have been applying their wholistic approach to social impact measurement since 2017, but they’re now scaling their approach by integrating it into a Global Wellbeing Intelligence Platform.
“At the Impact Connect event we really want to pitch the next step in Huber’s future. We’re presenting the Global Wellbeing Intelligence Platform. And we are positioning Huber as the MVP of that. We’ve got measurement that shows that it can inform solving social issues, we’ve built credibility, we can scale the solution. And we’ve been able to apply it across all different sectors.” Georgina says.
“So we’ve got that universality. Now we want to use that IP, and open it up to be bigger than Huber, and reinforce the integrity of it. It will be a global assurance group that can maintain and develop the IP, and then go forth, collect the data and make that available for people that are trying to solve social issues. Whether that’s through impact investing, philanthropy, government decision making, etc.”
While Huber Social is a business, the platform is being developed as a not-for-profit. Georgina explains that she’s not asking for investment in the traditional way, she’s seeking partners and customers.
“Well, you could just give us money, but, because the whole system in itself is altruistic,, we don’t want to extract value from that, because then we’re taking away from actually solving social issues.” Georgina says.
“So instead, we’re saying, come to us with your target social issue. We’ll get the data to help you solve that, and you pay for the service. But simultaneously, we’re building this intelligence platform. It’s like, two birds with one stone. We’re just asking for upfront payment of services, then, we’ll provide the data intelligence to help you solve a social issue. From there, the benefit will spread far beyond just yourselves, it will aid decision-making across the whole industry.”
A Social Value Standard with Standards Australia
But that’s not all, Huber is also working with Standards Australia to draft a guide helping a broad range of organisations to measure their social value in a standardised way.
They’re joined by a high-profile group of social impact and academic organisations, including: Oxford University, Trust Waikato and SEAF Impact Investing.
“Huber is the model, we’ve built the credibility in this sector, and so we’re just finalising the draft with Standards Australia. It’s all about maintaining and developing the integrity in social impact measurement, because there’s a huge proliferation of how social impact measurement is being done.” Georgina says.
“It’s one of the first in the world, the UK, slightly beat us to it with their Enhancing Social Value work. And then Sweden’s also starting work on national standard at the end of the year.”
Huber Social is one of the impact enterprises that will be featured at the Impact Connect showcase event on Tuesday 9th November.