The Common Approach is a set of four impact measurement standards that are created for – and governed by – social purpose organizations. This is an inclusive approach to building a standard.
Standards are communities, not documents.
We believe that a standard is a community more than a document. To create a standard, a community must create documents, but it is the community, not the documents that will sustain over time. A standard becomes strong and effective by focusing on building community, not by focusing on building documents.
To create a community we are committed to creating mutli-stakeholder participation that is inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible.
The following guiding principles inform the Common Approaches decisions and actions.
1. The Common Approach is shaped by all its users. The social purpose organizations that adopt the standard have input and decision-making roles in the standards’ ongoing evolution.
- We believe that a standard is a community more than a document. To create a standard, a community must create documents, but it is the community, not the documents that will sustain over time. A standard is made more effective by focusing on the qualities of the community more than on the qualities of the document.
- We are committed to being accountable to all stakeholders through transparent and reliable communications allowing for broad input to ensure relevance and feasibility of adoption.
- We are committed to scaling in an inclusive way, so people and organizations know they are making a difference.
- We create processes that are designed to be inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible.
- We recognize that processes must be proportional to the capacity and resources that the Common Approach has; we will work to secure the resources for a resilient, inclusive, initiative.
- Allowing for complexity and moving at the pace of trust and adoption, we will seek to have a balance between centralized and distributed decision-making that achieves our goals while holding strategies for longer-term impact.
2. We recognize that both impact measurement and standard-setting are practices associated with power, permitting action at distance. We are committed to building impact measurement standards that place the power with operating charities and social-purpose businesses and those they serve, rather than focusing primarily on the impact measurement needs of foundations, grantmakers and impact investors.
- We commit to multi-stakeholder participation that is inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible, as outlined in principle one.
- We commit to developing and promoting impact measurement standards that maintain a plurality of voices in impact accounts.
- We commit to developing and promoting impact measurement standards that have the flexibility to be malleable to the needs of social purpose organizations, rather than imposing burdensome constraints.
- We regularly pause to reflect on ways that the Common Approach to Impact Measurement’s four standards and governance systems distribute power.
- In all the above, we specifically recognize the colonial histories present within impact measurement and many contemporary data practices and that they can promote universalist/colonialist worldviews and clientelism rather than self-determination. The Common Approach recognizes the diversity of jurisdictions, legal regimes, and cultural views on information as a collectively held resource and respects Indigenous Data Sovereignty. We recognize the First Nations principles of ownership, control, access, and possession of First Nations information and data in Canada. We also recognize that Indigenous practices of measurement existed pre-contact. We recognize that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples have developed or are developing distinct principles for the governance of their own data.
We do this through our governance structure, Action Tables, and our engagements with social purpose organizations (such as webinars, surveys and research).
Many people have come together to support the development of the Common Approach.
The initial community-driven processes are nearing completion
A growing community
The Common Approach community is made up of an expanding network of members, partners and supporters. Each of these groups is playing a foundational role in the launch of the Common Approach, helping to set the stage for widespread adoption of its standards.
Executive Director of the Chantier de l’économie sociale
Executive Director of EcoEquitable
CEO, Technology Helps
Master of Public Policy candiate, Duke University
Dr. Javaid Hayat
Action for Healthy Communities
Executive Director at Furniture Bank
Executive Director Opera.ca
Founder, Optinum Professional Corp
Evaluation expert and a knowledge broker
RBC Corporate Citizenship Impact Measurement practice Lead
Interim Executive Director of the Common Approach
Consultant, Learning & Evaluation at Vancity Community Foundation
Co-Founder and CEO at RIDDL
Impact Investment Manager at Vancity Credit Union
Executive Director The Canadian CED Network
Our Supporting Partners
The Common Approach to Impact Measurement is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada by the Government of Canada . The Common Approach is part of the Government of Canada’s Investment Readiness Program.
Contributing Community Members
Social enterprises and investors want to move forward with better impact measurement but they want to move forward together. The Common Approach is about building the community that will advance impact measurement together.