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Scaling Social Impact: What is really missing?

Posted by Ayanda Khuzwayo on 10 September 2018 11:45 AM SAST
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Dipalesa Mpye (Social Investment Specialist) 

As more and more funders make the shift from traditional grantmaking to investing in strategic, system-shifting initiatives, conversations around scaling the impact of flagship programmes and successful pilot projects have dominated meeting agendas. The idea of scaling is not a new one. In the for-profit world, expansion of market reach, product offerings and operations form a fundamental part of the business case from the outset. In the non-profit world, we see a growing base of resources ranging from “how-to scale” guides for non-profit leadership; conferences and courses focused on scaling initiatives; and even the steady development of innovative financing models. Despite this, examples of successfully scaled high-impact social interventions remain the exception rather than the rule in the South African context.

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Organisations remain under enormous pressure to monitor and evaluate their social investment programmes for learning purposes and adaptive management. They are also often faced with heavy workloads due to conflicting demands from multiple donors with different contractual and reporting requirements. Despite these pressures, non-profit organisations must demonstrate the impact and value of their social initiatives in order to secure funding support and evolve. Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) has additionally come to be recognised as an essential component of social investment as it allows funders to meaningfully assess the impact of their work.

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