Bryn Sadownik and Rachel Berdan are facilitators and evaluators – and Common Approach Champions – who are including the Common Approach in their capacity-building work.

Community-Driven: Case Study

Including the Common Approach in capacity-building work

Bryn Sadownik is the Manager, Evaluation and Community Impact at the Vancity Community Foundation. The Foundation serves communities in Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw territories, with branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay. It was established by Vancity Credit Union to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

Through her experience in resource and environmental management, Bryn recognized that she wanted to apply her evaluation and assessment skills in a broader community context. She joined the Vancity Community Foundation and put her experience to work in a project that brought together social enterprises and investors to create a framework that could better organize and structure evaluation systems for this emerging sector.

Similarly, Rachel Berdan works with many social enterprises in her as the Social Enterprise Program Manager and Coach with Pillar Nonprofit Network. Created through a partnership between Human Resources Development Canada and the United Way of London & Middlesex (Ontario), Pillar supports non-profit organizations and the professional development of members. Rachel is active with the Libro Social Enterprise Incubator and the Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network.

Approach to impact evaluation

Training in B Corp certification and a background in story-telling helps Rachel to guide much of her approach to evaluation. She believes that the B Corp certification helps social purpose businesses to define their accountability and ensure that they integrate evaluation into both their planning and their ongoing operations. In her work with early-stage social enterprises, Rachel often sees people get overwhelmed with short-term priorities, which means planning for evaluation can fall by the wayside. She notes that maintaining clarity about the impact they want to have can help organizations to define the change and track the results of their work.

Bryn convenes groups to explore new possibilities in measuring impact and works with community organizations to plan, manage and communicate the value of their work. Many of these organizations she works with are already be doing an evaluation. Yet, many want to move from being responsive to proactive. They want to be able to create unique snapshots of their key measures and customize their reporting for different audiences. Bryn sees the Common Approach as helping to make the data collected by organizations usable in a variety of ways. She views this as something that is often missing from the evaluation process.

Integrating the Common Approach

So Bryn is already considering how Vancity Community Foundation might use the Common Approach to strengthen planning and reporting in social purpose organizations. She has integrated the Common Foundations into the workbooks and resources used by the Foundation and the Demonstrating Value Resource Society. By fostering connections between systems and resources, Bryn feels that evaluation can become a part of everyone’s process. She wants to make sense of impact evaluation for people on the ground and sees that as being a primary value of the Common Approach.

Rachel sees the Common Approach as an opportunity to develop a shared language for impact evaluation. She has included the Common Foundations into the workshops that she delivers to her Pillar cohorts. The first workshop leads the groups through the process of identifying the problem they want to solve and building a theory of change, and the second workshop covers ways to measure the change they want to make.

The Common Approach is providing a way to frame social change conversations, both with Pillar’s cohorts and within the sector as a whole. Bryn and Rachel share the goal of unifying multiple social purpose organizations towards collective impact and see the value of the Common Approach as contributing to the vision of aggregated results and reporting.

Acknowledgement: Thanks to the Canadian Community Economic Development Network for this content.

Common Approach Champions

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