Transformative Outcomes: The Use of Social Impact Measurement

Claire Paterson-Young*, Richard Hazenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportEntry for Dictionary/Encyclopediapeer-review


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outline targets and indicators to address systemic barriers to sustainable development (Costanza et al. 2016). The SDGs provide a blueprint for the development of a sustainable, peaceful and prosperous planet, with all United Nations Members States encouraged to adopt the agenda (UN Sustainable Development Goals 2020). Adopting the SDG agenda creates pressure on Member States to develop and/or fund services that address the systemic barriers to sustainable development, and more specifically, transform outcomes. This creates an opportunity for organisations to maximise funding by introducing a measurement approach that, not only captures the organisations success in transforming outcomes, but aligns organisational activities with the SDGs. Social impact measurement enables organisations to highlight the benefit of activities, aligned to the SDGs, by identifying short-, medium- and long-term outcomes and impact (Nicholls 2009; Clifford et al. 2013). It requires an understanding of the scope of the programme (outputs of the programme); the positive and negative outcomes experienced by beneficiaries (outcomes for the beneficiary group); the changes for beneficiaries and society over time (impacts on society); the role of different stakeholders/partners in this change (alternative attribution); and the changes that would have occurred regardless of the programmes delivery (deadweight/control group). Understanding developments in social impact measurement, the approaches to measurement and the areas for measurement are therefore essential in establishing an appropriate framework. Furthermore, understanding the role of multi-stakeholder approaches to programme design, delivery and evaluation is critical in social impact measurement (Hazenberg, Seddon and Denny 2015), especially in developing a holistic social impact measurement framework to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies. From this perspective therefore, social impact measurement approaches can provide a mechanism for better understanding the strategic delivery of the SDGs, whilst also quantifying the roles (and impact delivered) of the various stakeholder groups involved at the operational level in achieving the SDG indicators.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
EditorsWalter Leal Filho, Anabela Marisa Azul, Luciana Brandli, Amanda Lange Salvia, Pinar Gökçin Özuyar, Tony Wall
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-95961-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-95959-7
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 May 2020

Publication series

NameEncyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
ISSN (Print)2523-7403
ISSN (Electronic)2523-7403


  • Social Impact Measurement
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Institutions


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