Social Enterprise Alliance at UIC Net Impact

A big challenge for social enterprises, nonprofits and NGOs has been how to measure efficiency and impact when the bottom line isn’t simply revenue or stock price, but rather some form of social value. As the nature of social value continues to evolve, new organizations doing new work need new kinds of measurement. Members of Chicago’s social enterprise community discussed these issues at “Impact Hour - The Sustainability of Social Impact,” a September 23 event cohosted by the UIC chapter of Net Impact and the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA).

Brady Gott, Managing Director of Cleanslate, spoke to UIC students and other attendees about calculating an organization’s social return on investment. Cleanslate uses a number of tailor-made performance measures to assess their effectiveness within the communities where they work. As a social enterprise arm of The Cara Program, Cleanslate focuses its work on creating jobs that boost individual careers while feeding resources back into the neighborhoods where they help create employment.

Kate Eyler-Werve and Kris Kernstock from Mightybytes discussed measurement and assessment in a few different contexts. Ms. Eyler-Werve talked about the ecological footprint of the internet, and shared information about the metrics that Mightybytes develops so that companies can measure the eco-friendliness of their websites. Ms. Kernstock shared some background about Mightybytes’ work as a Benefit corporation, or “B corporation,” including the ways organizations can use for-profit principles to drive community-based and environmental work.

The measurement of social impact is a factor in the field of social enterprise. On hand to give an overview of the topic were UIC Business professor Abagail McWilliams and Wendy Raymer, Director of U.S. Community Affairs for BMO Harris Bank. The speakers’ presentations were followed by a Q&A and plenty of time for students to introduce themselves to members of Chicago’s B corporate community.

Text and photos by Sarah Agamah and Mackenzie Magnus.