Ventures at the Helm: a guide for for SPO-centred impact measurement

What is Ventures at the Helm?

Ventures at the Helm is a guide co-authored by Laura Budzyna, Karim Harji, Heather Hachigian and Penny Hawkins. The guide contains learnings, tools, and worksheets to help ventures and impact investors design and build impact measurement and management practices well-suited to the needs of the ventures (which we often refer to as SPOs, meaning charities, non-profits, cooperatives or for-profit social enterprises) that they invest in. Impact measurement that centres the needs of SPOs… sound familiar?

The Ventures at the Helm guide is the result of collecting “journeys, insights, and perspectives” from real ventures on their impact measurement and management strategies. These strategies were then mapped into four phases: orienting, navigating, sailing, and tacking. As laid out on page 9 of the guide, orienting is “an international, defined moment of framing and goal setting,” navigating is “a continuous period of exploring new opportunities and testing questions,” sailing is “a continuous period of moving and managing towards a streamlined and optimized set of goals,” and tacking is “an intentional, time-limited pivot or adaptation to a new opportunity, need or question.” Each phase is characterized by its own set of pressing questions, and so each requires its own approach to impact measurement.

Ventures do not pass through the phases in the same order. Like Common Approach, the guide highlights the need for flexibility, as ventures will “enter, exit, and revisit phases in response to their needs, inflection points, resources, and changing contexts”. 

What we love

  • A worksheet for ventures to find their phase, rather than working off of an assumed starting point. The goal is not to find yourself in the “right place at the right time”, but to align the IMM approach with the phase in which a given venture finds itself.
  • An adaptive and iterative approach that includes changing metrics and methods as the “context, resources, and mission & strategy” change.
  • A focus on flexibility at every turn.
  • A focus on SPO-led impact measurement and management.

Who should use the guide

  • Investors and funders who want to encourage impact measurement that is useful for their investees and grantees.
  • Social Purpose Organizations that want to take more control over their impact measurement and management practices rather than simply responding to funder metrics.

Interested in learning more about Ventures at the Helm? Click here to watch “Learning with Common Approach: Exploring Ventures at the Helm” now on the Common Approach YouTube channel!

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Published February 27, 2024

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