The Pathfinder Pilot

In 2022, Common Approach launched its next pilot program, the Pathfinder Pilot. The goal of the Pathfinder Pilot is to see how adopting all four Common Approach Standards alters the process and outcomes of impact measurement for social purpose organizations (SPOs), both individually and within a network of related organizations.

Impact measurement by social purpose organizations can often be time-consuming, bureaucratic, and focused more on reporting and accountability than the information needs of the organization or those most affected by the mission or impact goal.

Through the Pathfinder Pilot, participants are measure impact using the Common Approach’s four standards. We believe this will result in impact measurement that is more effective and more relevant to participating organizations and those they serve. We are testing if the Common Approach standards truly do allow social purpose organizations to collect and use more flexible, relevant data that can still be aggregated at a portfolio level.

The understanding we are gaining from this Pilot with Canadian organizations will help us further develop the standards into flexible, community-driven best practices and encourage the adoption of better impact measurement practices globally.

Learn more about the participating networks:

Meet the Pathfinder Pilot network: Newfoundland & Labrador Coalition

The third network participating in the Pathfinder Pilot is the Newfoundland and Labrador Social Enterprise and Innovation Coalition, convened by the Centre for Social Enterprise (Memorial University). The Coalition was formed to promote the development of a well-articulated and robust social finance ecosystem in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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What we are learning:

Choosing the right measurement software

Choosing the right measurement software

We came into the Pathfinder Pilot understanding that social purpose organizations frequently face challenges with the software they use for impact measurement and reporting. We would like to share what we are learning about how SPOs wish to use software to support their impact measurement practices and the attributes that make software most useful to them.

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Common Foundations: Good enough for what?

Common Foundations: Good enough for what?

Learnings from the Pathfinder Pilot: The Common Foundations articulate a minimum standard of impact measurement for social purpose organizations. It is about being good enough rather than great. The question is: good enough for what?

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What does success look like?

By the mid-point of the Pathfinder Pilot, success will look like:
  • All network members meet a minimum standard for impact measurement practice, demonstrated by answering “yes” to every question on the Common Foundations self-assessment
  • All network members are using software that is aligned with the Common Impact Data Standard and capturing all data points relevant to the highest tier of alignment for that software.
  • All network members will have completed a Common Form and can export/share it.
  • Network members have pooled their impact data for analysis, specifics to be determined case-by-case.
  • At least two, and preferably all, funders to the network have also aligned with the Common Impact Data Standard and Common Form
By the end of the Pilot, successful outcomes may include:
  • Organizations collect more useful and relevant impact data that meet their needs, including making program improvements and demonstrating value.
  • The process of collecting, analyzing, using and sharing data is more efficient.
  • Valuable insights emerge from new analyses of pooled data.
  • Funders can be more flexible on reporting requirements without diminishing their ability to aggregate data across a portfolio.

ARCHIVE: View the original Pathfinder Pilot program outline and call for applicants.

The Pathfinder Pilot is housed at Social Innovation Canada and is funded by the Government of Canada’s Investment Readiness Program, the Northpine Foundation, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, with additional funding from the McConnell Foundation.

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