Common Impact Data Standard

The data standard makes better analysis possible

You can think of the Common Impact Data Standard as an organization system for your impact data. It provides a place for everything so that everything can be in its place. This makes it easier to share and aggregate data. Softwares can be more easily designed to support better impact analysis.

What is the Common Impact Data Standard

The Common Impact Data Standard, released in collaboration with Mark Fox at the Centre for Social Services Engineering at the University of Toronto, is a standard for representing impact data that allows for data to be shared, aggregated and compared. Think of it as an organization system for capturing your impact data.

To create this standard, the Common Approach consulted with experts and aligned with other leading standards, such as the Impact Management Project, which itself consulted with over 2000 impact professionals.

Following the norms identified by the Impact Management Project, the Common Impact Data Standard has defined the necessary objects and relationships to represent the who, what, how much, contribution and risk of impact. These are the five dimensions of impact as identified by the Impact Management Project. In addition to those five dimensions, the Common Impact Data Standard includes information on inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes (as would be in a program logic model or theory of change) to describe how the impact occurs.

The how is important for questions around “what works”. This means that this data standard is sufficiently well specified to support the representation of gold-standard impact measurement (there is a space for everything); but it does not oblige or mandate social purpose organizations to populate all the fields.  

This standard provides a flexible, reputable standard for representing impact models and impact data electronically.

Guide to the Data Standard

This is a quick study guide for people who are new to the Common Impact Data Standard.

Data standards tell you what to record and how to represent it.

Data Standards Definition

The Rockefeller Foundation

Impact Software Developers Aligned with the Data Standard

The Common Impact Data Standard is embedded into social impact software offered by these developers. This allows social purpose organizations to access the standard without becoming data scientists.  When looking for an impact data tracking tool, look for one that is aligned with the Common Approach.

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The Common Impact Data Standard is ready

We need a system that enables us to have everything feed into a report or some kind of centralized database, because it’s not always obvious what each of our individual data points is telling us about our impact on a larger scale. 

Gina Babinec

Impact Hub Ottawa

The Common Impact Data Standard

Alignment Tiers for Software Developers

Basic

The logo with the dotted green ring indicates that the software developer can send and receive impact data using the Common Approach Impact Data Standard JSON-LD expressions to capture the most basic level of impact data:

  • Organization (Legal name, Org ID) 
  • Outcome (name, description, domain)
  • Indicator (name, description)
  • IndicatorReport (all)

Essential

The logo with the dashed green ring indicates that the software developer can send and receive impact data using the Common Approach Impact Data Standard JSON-LD expressions at a level of impact data that is in full alignment with the Impact Management Project:

All the above plus:

  • Stakeholder (description, location, characteristics)
  • Outcome (StakeholderImportance, Underserved, ImpactRisk)
  • IndicatorReport (value, date, baseline, contribution)
  • Impact Report (Scale, Depth, Duration)

Full

The logo with the solid green ring indicates that the software developer can send and receive impact data using the Common Approach Impact Data Standard JSON-LD expressions at a level of impact data that is in full alignment with the Impact Management Project as well as impact models (such as theory of change) and characteristics of data quality.

All the above plus:

  • ImpactModel (all)
  • IndicatorReport (method, data quality)
  • ImpactReport (method, data quality)

 

The Data Standard is an incredibly powerful component of impact measurement.

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Showcase your alignment

Showcase your alignment

For the standard to grow, people and organizations need to be able to demonstrate that they are using the Common Approach. Social purpose organizations aligning with all five practices, trainers and consultants, developers can request use of the identifier.

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