Social Impact Analysis

How to know if your work is making an impact

Course Details

  • Price: FREE
  • Start Date: February 25, 2020
  • Time: 3 hours/week
  • Duration: 5 weeks
  • Instructor: Tom Adams

What You’ll Learn:

  • Gain a three-part framework to assess the breadth, depth and focus of your social impact
  • Craft a theory of change for your organization or initiative
  • Learn from case studies of how other social enterprises have measured their social impact in lean and rigorous ways
  • Use Acumen’s Lean Data approach


This course will introduce you to frameworks and practical tools for measuring the social impact of your company, organization, or initiative. You’ll learn how to articulate short-term outcomes and long-term goals, and connect them to quantifiable metrics that support your decisions. Making sense of data to support your process will improve the impact you seek to make.

Format and Timing:

  • Team-Based Course: We strongly encourage (but do not require) that you form a team of 2-8 people to take the course with. It works best to find friends or coworkers who can meet in person. Need to find team members? You can post to the discussion forums a month before the course starts.
  • Platform: NovoEd (+Acumen developed the course. We host this course on the NovoEd platform.)
  • Timing: This course will be open for 5 weeks. You can work through the materials at your own pace during the time the course is open. There are no required times for you to log in. There will be suggested deadlines for you to complete each assignment. The final deadline is the final day of the course.

Course Syllabus

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  • 4 reading guides highlighting case studies and examples
  • 4 discussion guides to structure the development of your own theory of change
  • Video tutorials from Sasha Dichter, Acumen's Chief Innovation Officer
Section 1: Introduction to Social Impact Analysis
  • Video: Introduction to the Course
  • Video: The State of Social Impact Analysis
  • Video: The Lean Social Impact Mindset
  • Video: How to Develop a Social Impact Hypothesis
  • Reading: Introduction to Social Impact Analysis
  • Reading: The Social Impact Buzz
  • Reading: Philosophies Guiding Social Impact Analysis
  • Reading: Why Measuring Social Impact Matters
  • Reading: What This Course Will Cover
  • Activity: Develop Your Impact Hypothesis
Section 2: Building an Impact Framework
  • Video: Framework for Measuring Impact
  • Video: Theory of Change
  • Video: Breadth of Impact
  • Video: Depth of Impact
  • Video: Target Population
  • Video: Case Study of Solar Company
  • Reading: Building an Impact Framework
  • Reading: Breadth of Impact
  • Reading: Depth of Impact
  • Reading: Focus on Target Population
  • Reading: Putting it All Together
  • Activity: Draft Your Impact Model
  • Activity: Define Your Target Customer
  • Activity: Define Your Breadth
  • Activity: Define Your Depth
Section 3: Developing a Theory of Change
  • Video: Theory of Change Overview
  • Video: Building Hypotheses into a Theory of Change
  • Video: Pitfalls to Watch Out for when Creating a Theory of Change
  • Video: The Connection Between Impact and Value
  • Reading: Introduction to Theory of Change
  • Activity: Create Your Theory of Change
Section 4: Current and Future Approaches to Impact Measurement and Data Collection
  • Video: The Future of Social Impact Analysis
  • Video: Conclusion
  • Reading: Gathering Your Impact Data
  • Reading: Data Collection Methods
  • Reading: Where We Think the Sector is Heading
  • Activity: From Impact Hypothesis to Customer Promise
  • Activity: Summary Deck
The course already started. Can I still enroll?
You can enroll up to 2 weeks after the start date of the course.
When will the next course be offered?
We offer our courses a few times a year. Sign up for our emails to be notified of the next time the course will be offered.
Do I get a certificate for this course?
You will earn a Statement of Accomplishment if you complete 5 of 6 assignments, including the final assignment, by the last day of the course.
How do teams work?
We recommend you find friends or colleagues for your team that you can meet with in person each week. Each team member should register for the course individually. You’ll then be able to form your team on the NovoEd platform once the course begins.
Do I have to complete the course with a team?
While we believe taking the course with a team will give you the best experience and chance of completing the course, it is possible to complete the course individually if you wish.
What should I expect from the assignments?
You will create a Life Map, develop your own personal story, integrate it into a larger presentation, and record your presentation for feedback from your classmates. You should allocate at least one hour a week to complete each assignment.

Supported By

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot –or will not. For more information, please visit

60 Decibels makes it easy to listen to the people who matter most. Our Lean DataSM approach turns customer voice into high-value insights that help businesses maximize their impact. We have a network of 120+ trained Lean DataSM researchers in 30+ countries who speak directly to customers to understand their lived experience. By combining voice, SMS, and other technologies to collect data remotely with proprietary survey tools, we help clients listen more effectively and benchmark their social performance against their peers.

What People Are Saying

Komal Faiz, founder of Design Pakistan

"It was clear, concise, easily understood. Very relevent to all the social work being done in Pakistan."

Komal Faiz, founder of Design Pakistan