Understanding impact for community businesses - Challenges and good practices for community businesses and funders

This paper explores what community businesses can do to understand their social impact, reflecting on the challenges and building on some of the good practices identified through three Power to Change-funded programmes (Bright Ideas, Trade Up and the Community Business Fund). This is presented following the three main elements that community businesses wrestle with when it comes to social impact:

  1. Articulating the impact they want to have or are having
  2. Measuring the impact they have had
  3. Using evidence of impact to learn and adapt their community business

The findings in this paper are based on data collected through over 60 qualitative interviews with Power to Change grantees, staff and delivery partners between April 2019 and May 2021, and through four workshops conducted between August and September 2021 with Bright Ideas Advisors, Trade Up Learning Managers and members from the Community Business Fund community business panel. This paper also uses Power to Change’s grantee survey data from 2017 and 2018.