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

Margerit Roger

Margerit Roger

Margerit works as a program planner, evaluator and trainer in the social purpose sector to highlight the critical role of service-providing organizations in addressing social challenges. Deeply influenced by her experiences with adult literacy learners, newcomers,...

Rachel Berdan

Rachel Berdan

As the Social Enterprise Program Manager & Coach at Pillar Nonprofit Network Rachel is part of the Libro Social Enterprise Incubator and Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network. Rachel is a storyteller at heart. Prior to Pillar, she worked with B Lab and made...

Kerri Klein

Kerri Klein

Kerri worked for almost 15 years in non-profit and government organizations that were seeking ways to effect change. She worked in roles where she both sought funds and granted funds, which allowed her to see both sides of the evaluation process. Together with four...

Cathy Lang

Cathy Lang

Cathy is a program designer, researcher, strategic planner, business developer, and non-profit sector-builder. She has coached numerous social enterprises in designing and testing their social value propositions. She began her career as a social worker with a strong...

Laurie Ringaert

Laurie Ringaert

Laurie spent much of her early career as a researcher. About ten years ago she applied for a position at Seattle King County Public Health as an evaluator and the 'light went on and she made the shift from researcher to impact evaluator. In 2015, she started Change...

Bryn Sadownik

Bryn Sadownik

Fifteen years ago, Bryn was applying skills developed through her Master’s program in Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University (SFU) to work as a consultant and researcher. When the opportunity to lead a new pilot program in impact assessment...

Social Enterprise Institute

Social Enterprise Institute

The Social Enterprise Institute offers two courses – the Common Foundations of Impact Measurement, a six-part introductory video series (free), and a comprehensive online course ($350), designed for social purpose organizations that are serious about social impact...

Garth Yule

Garth Yule

Garth has a degree in communication and community economic development and worked passionately with environmental non-profits and university students’ unions through the early 2000s. Garth previously used that expertise to guide his work at Junxion Strategy, to engage...

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