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Research on Social Entrepreneurship - Understanding and Contributing to an Emerging Field

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The fourth chapter in this collection, authored by Noga Leviner, Leslie R. Crutchfield, and Diana Wells, addresses the "million-dollar" question of how to measure social entrepreneurs' impact. The existing methodologies for assessing the impact of nonprofit organizations tend to focus on easily-quantifiable figures such as programmatic outputs (6,000 homeless people fed, for example) and financial ratios (fee to grant revenue). 

But these measures miss what the authors consider to be the most important and meaningful product of a social entrepreneur's work-systemic social change. Beginning with an overview of performance measurement techniques in the nonprofit sector, the chapter presents Ashoka's Measuring Effectiveness project and shares results from the first seven years of surveys and case studies. 

The chapter includes the definitions of "social entrepreneurship" and "systemic change" that were developed as a prerequisite to the creation of the measurement effort, and analyzes the benefits and challenges of the Ashoka approach in the context of other methodologies designed to track large groups of social entrepreneurs' progress toward systemic change over time.

Read the full text of this collection of papers