Kate Ruff is Co-Director at the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (3ci) and an Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Sprott School of Business. She researches how organizations measure and report their impacts on society. Her current focus is on the standardization of, and processes of standard-setting, impact measurement with a particular focus on how standards encourage – or deprive – meaningful participation from the people whose lives are most affected by an organizations’ activities.
As part of that research (perhaps because of that research), Kate is currently spearheading Common Approach to Impact Measurement. This approach seeks a more flexible approach to impact measurement standards. It is a way to link bespoke organizational-level indicators to a framework of broad themes or domains, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This linking allows social purpose organizations to measure what and how they see fit (empowering them to give voice to those whose lives are most affected by their activities) and it allows impact portfolio managers – like funders, investors, and multi-project or multi-partner organizations – to aggregate impact across diverse projects. The Common Approach is not a new method of measuring impact, but a way of joining existing methods, like SROI, into a sort of coherence. The Common Approach is Funded by the Government of Canada. It is being developed by academics in information technology, social economy and finance as well as a large coalition of charities, non-profits, grant makers, investors and social purpose businesses.