The Common Approach works towards more relevant impact measurement for social purpose organizations through developing flexible standards of impact measurement that are created for and governed by social purpose organizations. The Common Approach is composed of four related standards, one of which is the Common Foundations. This is the first in a series of posts exploring how the Common Foundations work with existing tools and frameworks. 

Common Foundations

Common Foundations and Demonstrating Value

The Common Foundations reiterate the essential practices that are common to many different approaches and frameworks and are therefore compatible with many other standards. There is no need to choose between the Common Foundations or other tools or approaches.

For example, while the Common Foundations outline the essential practices needed to measure impact, Demonstrating Value provides detailed guidance, tools, and resources that organizations can use to develop and strengthen those essential practices. Using Demonstrating Value is one way to meet the Common Foundations standard, or the Common Foundations can help organizations work through the Demonstrating Value framework.

What is Demonstrating Value? 

Demonstrating Value offers a simple framework for social purpose organizations to work out what information is most critical and feasible to monitor in their organizations. This includes measuring community impact, business (organizational) performance and organizational sustainability. Organizations use Demonstrating Value to consider their data collection, analysis and communication needs holistically, and develop a customized ‘Snapshot’ that provides an engaging summary of performance and impact to their key stakeholders.

Organizations can get started with Demonstrating Value with two complementary activity guides and then access over 20 additional resources and tools which are all free to download. Demonstrating Value also offers learning events and coaching.

The overarching benefits of using Demonstrating Value’s approach are:

  • Being able to create an engaging ‘snapshot’ that ensures the data organizations collect (or want to collect) is used effectively in decision making and to engage stakeholders including funders.
  • Access to an extensive collection of resources and tools that address various measurement challenges including an indicator library, snapshot templates, and subject impact measurement guides.
  • Practical and simple language guides which explain step-by-step the various components of impact measurement.
  • Its focus on building measurement capacity in a way that is responsive to the size, stage of development, and needs of the organization.
How does Demonstrating Value map to the Common Foundations?

The Common Foundations set out what essential practices are needed to measure impact. Demonstrating Value provides detailed guidance, tools, and resources that organizations can use to develop and strengthen those essential practices and develop the capacity of the organization for impact measurement. Thus, using Demonstrating Value is one way to meet the Common Foundations standard.

1. Describe your intended change

Demonstrating Value guides organizations to define their information needs based on what information is important. For measuring impact, Demonstrating Value guides organizations to mapping tools that organizations can use to describe their intended change in its Impact Mapping worksheet, which includes how to develop a theory of change, logic model, or outcome map. 

2. Use indicators

Demonstrating Value provides guidance to organizations to identify and use relevant indicators. Both the Common Foundations and Demonstrating Value support the use of both qualitative and quantitative indicators. Demonstrating Value offers several specific resources to develop indicators including an Indicator Library for Measuring Impact, Sustainability and Performance, as well as more detailed specific guidance for measuring impact in Affordable Housing, Farmers Markets, Supportive Employment, Green Building, Recycling, and Neighbourhood Revitalization. 

3. Collect useful information

A key objective of Demonstrating Value is to support organizations to collect useful information. Its Performance and Impact Measurement Activity Guide provides significant guidance on how to ensure that what is collected gets used in decision-making and in engaging stakeholders. 

4. Gauge performance and impact

Demonstrating Value helps organizations adopting the Common Foundations look critically at their data collection methods and improve them. Demonstrating Value offers methodological guidance in its Performance and Impact Measurement Activity Guide as well as separate resources for making decisions about investment in data management solutions, and how to maintain confidentiality and privacy in monitoring. 

5. Communicate and Use Results

Demonstrating Value’s Developing a Snapshot Activity Guide helps organizations develop a ‘Snapshot’ that can be formatted as an impact report, infographic and/or dashboard. Demonstrating Value’s objective is to have organizations’ own information needs be at the centre of their reporting so that information supports their learning, as well as that of their stakeholders, and ultimately supports their growth and successful development.

How the Common Foundations and Demonstrating Value help users

Demonstrating Value’s alignment with the Common Foundation means that organizations that use Demonstrating Value’s framework and resources to strengthen their measurement practices will also be in a good position to meet the Common Foundation’s minimum standards and the benefits that come from meeting this standard. 

Demonstrating Value’s website and activity guides use icons to show how they align to the Common Foundations. By using these icons, users can navigate to other frameworks (and resources) out there that can support organizations out there to strengthen their essential practices in Impact Measurement. 

Strengthening impact measurement together will help to direct more capital for social and community investment. 

Are you aligned with the Common Foundations? 

If an organization uses the Demonstrating Value Approach, then they are likely aligned with the Common Foundations and meeting a minimum standard for impact measurement. 

Use the Common Foundations self-assessment to determine if you are already aligned or to identify areas of your impact measurement practice to focus on developing.Organizations that meet the standard are invited to display the logo on their website. All of the resources and articles on the site are free to share within any given sector. For more information on joining the community and aligning with the Common Approach, contact us and subscribe to the newsletter.


The Common Approach acknowledges Dallas Baker, Consultant, and Garth Yule, formerly Managing Director, Canada at Junxion Strategy and now with the Common Approach staff team, for co-authoring this paper. The authors of this paper engaged with Bryn Sadownik, Consultant, Learning and Evaluation, at Vancity Community Foundation, on this topic. Bryn Sadownik is a board member of the Demonstrating Value Resource Society and also of the Common Approach to Impact Measurement.


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