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.

The decisions and actions of Common Approach are led by our guiding principles. Community is a key element of these guiding principles and includes the user community of our standards as well as the broader social purpose organization community. Our aim is to create a community that has a shared vision and purpose of the best impact and impact measurement for everyone.

To create this community, we are committed to creating multi-stakeholder participation that is inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible.​

Guiding Principles

These guiding principles inform the Common Approach’s decisions and actions:

  1. 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.
  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.


The Common Approach Standards are created for and governed by our community.

Guiding Principles
Public Review Process

Common Approach was founded by settlers on the unceded and treaty lands of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, colonially known as Canada. We respect and affirm the inherent and Treaty Rights of all Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island and beyond and support the complete implementation of the 94 Calls to Action brought forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).

Common Approach further recognizes the colonial histories present within impact measurement and many contemporary data practices and how they can promote universalist and colonialist worldviews and clientelism rather than self-determination. We, therefore, recognize our responsibility to ensure Common Approach standards are not only inclusive of but actively champion Indigenous methodologies that are grounded in community-identified priorities.

Common Approach is committed to the principles of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA)

Inclusion, diversity, equity, and access strengthen the community of social purpose organizations and other organizations working in the impact measurement space. Embedding these principles into all aspects of developing and disseminating the Common Approach impact measurement standards will improve the quality, social relevance, and impact of our work.

Community-driven governance

In addition to general community engagement through various communications channels, direct collaborations and support, the governance of Common Approach is also structured to be community-driven.

Common Approach governance - an orange circle at the centre labelled "Common Approach secretariat, intersected by three rings: board of directors, SPO council and technical committees.

Social Purpose Organization (SPO) Council

The Social Purpose Organization (SPO) Council ensures that the needs of operating charities, nonprofits and social-purpose businesses and those they serve are centered in the ongoing development of Common Approach’s impact measurement standards.

It is not a council of impact measurement advocates; it was important to find members who would challenge our work and represent the diversity of perspectives present in the SPO space. Council members are chosen for their expertise, lived experience and enthusiasm they bring to shaping the future of Common Approach.

Council members serve a 3-year term with one potential consecutive renewal. Council members are paid for their time.

See who is on the Common Approach Social Purpose Organization (SPO) Council.

See the public summaries of SPO Council meetings.

The Board of Directors of Common Approach is the primary governing body of the nonprofit organization. They are recruited from the social purpose and impact measurement communities and aim to be representative of those communities. The Board oversees the work of the Secretariat staff.

Board members are volunteers who serve renewable two-year terms

See who is on the Common Approach Board of Directors.

Technical Committees + Public Review

For the Common Approach Standards to be truly community-driven, the substantive direction of each standard will be undertaken by Technical Committees of engaged users and people with expert knowledge. Their composition and arrangements for compensation are designed to make these committees the engines of the standards’ development.

Each Technical Committee is composed of five to eight individuals who are selected for their expertise and enthusiasm. The members of the Technical Committee are responsible for drafting revisions to standards, with focus areas determined by users of the standards.

See who is on the Common Approach Technical Committees.

Public Review: Every time a new draft version of the standards has been developed by the technical committee, the draft will then be shared with the users of the standard and all other interested parties for input. All comments will be addressed before the publication of the final revised standard.

The Common Approach Secretariat, under the direction of the Board of Directors and SPO Council, is tasked with the operational execution of strategic objectives, the coordination of activities, and the generation of the feeling of community among users.

Learn more about the Common Approach Staff.

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The Common Approach is community-driven! Get updates on standards and see upcoming events and webinars. 


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