Common Foundations resources

Why the Common Foundations and for Whom?

The Common Foundations reflect a minimum standard of impact measurement—not a gold standard. This is intentional. Community is the key ingredient to successful standards. In order to develop the community of active users behind a standard, users must be able to come on board and meet the standard. To make it possible to come on board, a standard must meet people where they are at.

Who are the Common Foundations for? 

  • For social purpose organizations that are not yet doing impact measurement—a great starting point
  • For social purpose organizations that are already doing impact measurement—to affirm they meet a minimum standard of impact measurement
  • For funders—a minimum standard for how to do impact measurement without prescribing a particular tool or approach
  • For organizations with tools and approaches to impact measurement (or who are developing these)—provides a foundational floor upon which to build further

Definitions of Key Terms

The Impact Management Project glossary is a great source for the various definitions of terms frequently used in reference to impact measurement.

There are some terms for which the Common Approach has a specific definition, including “impact”, “impact measurement”, “outputs”, and “outcomes”. 

Get help meeting the minimum standard and applying the Common Foundations

video presentationLooking for more structured guidance on the Common Foundations?

The Social Enterprise Institute, in partnership with The Common Approach project, have created a tailored suite of impact measurement courses that form the foundations of impact measurement.  Over five courses, you will learn how to simply, accurately and consistently measure the impact your organization does within the hours you can dedicate to measurement. (Cost: $349 + tax)


These impact-oriented evaluators, consultants and trainers who are aligning with the Common Foundations can offer help with impact measurement.

Common Foundations Videos Archive

From Common Foundations Version 1.0: Dive deeper and watch the videos on each of the 5 essential practices of impact measurement.

Thank you to our partners at Social Enterprise Institute for the videos.  






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