Common Form

Essential accompaniments to an impact report

The Common Form makes it possible to contextualize the data collected for impact measurement. It helps answer the question, “who created this impact?”

What is the Common Form?

The Common Form is a standardized way to represent the organizational information of a social purpose organization (SPO).

The organizational information collected includes both financial measures and descriptive measures. This is the kind of data that does not change very much or very often, but that organizations are constantly re-typing and sharing.

The financial measures include financial statements and key financial indicators, such as current assets, total assets, total liabilities, total revenues and total expenses. The descriptive measures include (but are not limited to) charity/business number, legal form, mission statement, team and board bios. In addition to basic organizational information, the Common Form also provides space to record data on the programs and projects within the organization.

The Common Form provides a standard set of organizational information, organized into a profile, for SPOs.

These organizational profiles are incorporated into Common Approach aligned software platforms and websites, presenting the information in a standard, accessible and interoperable format.

Information in the Common Form:

Identifying information

Name of organization, address, the charity or business number.

Information that rarely changes

Mission and vision statement, description, legal form.

Financial data

Financial statements/current assets, total revenues, total expenses

Organizational/project Information

Objectives, Team Bios, Populations Served

The Common Form is an essential complement to the Common Impact Data Standard. By including context about the organization behind the impact recorded using the Common Impact Data Standard, assessors are able to “compare fair,” so that factors such as geography, size, age, legal form, mission and program design could be considered when comparing impact data.

Using software or platforms aligned with the Common Form is the easiest way for social purpose organizations (SPOs) to “use” the Common Form.

Stay tuned for updates as partner softwares and websites align with the Common Form!

Are you a software developer looking for more information about how to align your products or tools with the Common Approach standards?


The Form has encountered some hurdles we're working to address

Introduction to the Common Form
Funders and investors, learn more about how you can align.
Additional Resources

The benefits of a Common Form

  1.  More autonomy. Donors, investors, and government agencies are increasingly aware that old funding application techniques have been a burden to grantees and investees. The Common Form provides funders with the standard formats they need to understand the organizations they are assessing, while leaving SPOs the autonomy to store, manage and share their data in ways that best fit their own needs.
  2. Less paperwork. The Common Form allows organization data to be represented in ways that can accommodate the reporting needs of diverse funders. Organizations using the Common Form will need to do less data entry across multiple funders’ systems.
  3. Greater visibility. The Common Form can enable the tagging of an organization’s content on the internet, making it easier for search engine users to find organizational profiles on the web.
  4. Better impact analysis. The Common Form is an essential complement to the flexibility and interoperability of data enabled by the Common Impact Data Standard.

The Common Form supports our guiding principles by keeping the social purpose organization in the driver’s seat, managing and controlling access to their organization’s information.

How the Common Form was developed

The data fields collected by the Common Form were developed with extensive stakeholder engagement that included social purpose organizations, grantmakers and impact investors. They are based on existing and common organizational profiles—and in the case of the financial measures, drawn from scholarly and practitioner literature.

Now that the Common Form is a form with its own ontology and is ready for testing and implementation, we are working with current and new software partners to get it integrated into software and ready for use. Once we have completed the integration and testing, we will officially launch the Common Form as a standard ready for use.

Upon its launch, we will then recruit the first Common Form Technical Committee to lead the community-driven governance of the standard. This technical committee will be composed of representatives SPOs, funders, investors and others who will make sure that the Common Form fields stay relevant to the needs of our community.

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