We surveyed 330 social enterprises anonymously on behalf of 7 impact investors worldwide. The 7 impact investors have received their feedback and are now making indicated improvements in their work. The feedback data and the investors’ experience in using the feedback is featured in the March 2013 report, What Investees Think.
What Investees Think 2013 Cohort Report
Key findings from the report
The survey works
The feedback is frank, accurate and – as the participating investors all testify – effective in driving improvement.
Some flashing red lights
- Survey respondents tell us that they don’t really know what their social and environmental results may be.
- They tell us that they have no idea what investors do with the reports that they prepare for them.
- They note that investors do not provide sufficient resources or expertise to enable investees to meet their reporting requirements.
Benchmarking feedback is powerful
By comparing feedback across a set of investors one can better interpret the data. Responses to the questions across the seven investors showed considerable variation, indicating likely better performers. The more investors that subscribe to the survey, the better the benchmarks for everyone.
A way to reduce the reporting burden
The Survey surfaces a field-level opportunity to discover which impact indicators are most predictive of future outcomes. Once we know what subset of indicators are most predictive of outcomes, we can stop wasting time and effort collecting lesser metrics and put more energy into managing to these leading indicators.
Meets a gap in field-level measurement tools
By factoring in rigorous comparative feedback, the existing field-level measurement, rating and reporting tools can start to reduce the overall reporting burden while providing a much needed reality check to our impact measurement conversation.
Investees ready to get feedback from their clients
There is a significant opportunity for impact investors to encourage and support investee efforts to get client feedback. When they do they will find that end client feedback is not only useful to investees, it is also useful for investment decisions.
Not a one-size-fits-all tool
Deploying a standardized survey tool does not necessarily lead to a one-size-fits-all result. The seven investor first person stories brilliantly showcase how the discipline of standardized measurement can distinguish uniqueness and inspire distinctive paths to excellence.
Clear patterns in investor strengths and weaknesses
The weakest areas have to do with value adding through non-financial support and transparency while the strongest areas are their technical competence, efficiency and credibility. Weaknesses are mainly in the nature of omissions – things they don’t do, but should – and strengths flow from the exemplary comportment of their staff. While investees indicate inadequacies in current non-financial support, they express a strong demand for it. Across the board, impact investors would benefit from being more proactive in soliciting advice and guidance from their investees.