Social Impact Measurement

Current research projects

About the project: “Social innovation” is not a new term in innovation research and has gained importance and attention as many hopes rest on its capacity to deal with the major challenges that societies are facing. The research field is characterized by conceptual ambiguity and understands Social Innovation (SI) i.a. as a mechanism for problem-solving or a more general change in social practices. The impact of Social Innovation is difficult to grasp as well: Even at the level of individual organizations, current research shows significant blind spots. Indicators and metrics in the field of social innovation are only emerging. Although there have been attempts to systematically develop a social innovation metric (IndiSi, IndiSiPlus), these are currently still in an exploratory phase and primarily relate to measuring social innovations and less to assessing their effects and added social value. On the other hand, the research field of (technology) impact assessment offers valuable and well-tried approaches to measuring innovation impact.

The central aim of the project “Impact of Social Innovations” (ISI), which is co-financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is to create significant theoretical and empirical advances in uncovering the impact of social innovations by linking the research fields of Social Innovation and impact assessment.

About the project: With the Social Impact Readiness Index SIRI the Center for Social Investment develops a toolkit for early identification, evaluation and development of the potential for social impact of academic research projects in social sciences and humanities. SIRI aims to (a) raise awareness among scientists at Heidelberg University of the potential for social impact of their work, (b) strengthen the interdisciplinary transfer culture, and (c) enable evaluation and development of social impact potential beyond economically quantifiable return logics in consulting of individual research projects together with our project partner hei_INNOVATION.

Completed research projects

About the book: This book introduces and explains how to conduct a Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis. It discusses the various advantages and disadvantages of different research strategies and designs, and explores the different ways in which SROI analysis results can be used for communication, outreach, and strategic decision-making. It provides insights into how and to what extent SROI analyses can help to meet different expectations, and presents different social impact research designs and methods. It presents an analytical framework for the identification of a proper SROI analysis, and shows readers how to establish an impact model, introducing a stakeholder-based approach.

Authors: Dr. Volker Then, Dr. Christian Schober, Olivia Rauscher, Dr. Konstantin Kehl

About the project: Apeiros e.V. aims to improve educational opportunities for students. Prolonged truancy has been identified as one of the main causes of inadequate schooling. Truant students pose significant challenges to schools and offices. Prevention before intervention, information before response, systematization before random response, low-threshold early response before serious later problem escalation. This results in a multilevel impact model that was tested step by step through scientific impact analysis. The work was scientifically accompanied by CSI.

Contact: Dr. Volker Then, Dr. Konstantin KehlAljoscha Jacobi

About the project: With the project "Education as an Opportunity", the Haniel Foundation started a cooperation to strengthen the educational opportunities of students in the Ruhr area, namely in Duisburg, the headquarters of the operating family business Haniel and the Foundation. The project is intended as a contribution to paving the way out of the problems of poverty, unemployment and prospects for the population of the Ruhr region, which has been particularly hard hit by structural change. As a foundation project, "Education as an Opportunity" took the unusual path of building a strong educational coalition of three social enterprises and the foundation itself and developed the claim of a "Collective Impact Project" that the Haniel Foundation and the social enterprises apeiros e.V., Chancenwerk e.V. and Teach First Deutschland gGmbH were jointly driving forward. The final report looks at the process of formative monitoring of the "Education as Opportunity" project in five sections.

Contact: Dr. Volker Then

About the project: Community-based living is a relatively new housing option for older people who can no longer or no longer want to live completely independently. The model seeked to create a living environment similar to that with which people are familiar, while encouraging contact and interaction among residents. The goal was to self-activate the elderly and create mutual support. We used an empirical study to test whether the model actually has a positive effect on people's social network, mutual support, participation in activities and events, in short: connections in the neighborhood and living environment. In addition, for example, the existing level of trust (cultural capital), or the commitment to the community and the assumption of community tasks (political capital) were also examined. For this purpose, community-oriented housing was compared with "assisted living". The survey took place with the participation and at locations of the Liebenau Foundation, the Bremen Home Foundation and the Samariter Foundation.

Contact: Dr. Gorgi Krlev, Dr. Volker Then

About the project: This value-added analysis examined the economic and social added value of neighborhood-based community living projects of four major German organizations compared with traditional forms of housing and living in old age. All model projects worked with community work approaches, which were designed differently but were always central to the project. The findings and responses presented here contribute to providing empirical support for the debate on alternative forms of housing in old age. They illustrate that society can benefit from community living models in a very wide variety of ways and at all levels, provided that the investments constitutive of social added value are made. The "Netzwerk: Soziales neu gestalten" is an association of six innovative social economy sponsors. They see demographic and social change as an opportunity and driver of social innovation.

Member organizations of the project: ZEW Mannheim (Dr. Peter Westerheide), Weeber and Partner (Gabriele Steffen) and zze Freiburg (Prof. Dr. Thomas Klie)

Contact: Dr. Volker Then