Social Impact Analysis

How to know if your work is making an impact

Course Details

  • Price: FREE
  • Start Date: OCT 9, 2018
  • 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

PDF icon Download (3.22 MB)
  • 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

Supported By

Acumen is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. In 2014, Acumen created Lean Data, a new standard for how impact measurement can add value to customers, companies, and investors, and does so at a fraction of the cost of other approaches.

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

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