From purpose to impact

Impact Centre Erasmus (ICE), part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, conducts research into impact thinking, impact measurement and impact management. Impact Centre Erasmus wants to bring scientific knowledge and expertise in practice. Impact Centre Erasmus conducts research and projects with a diverse group of organizations to get a better grip on the realization of their economic, ecological and / or social ambitions. Impact Centre Erasmus carries out research for companies, financial institutions, government, social organizations and partnerships. Impact Centre Erasmus also offers training courses and masterclasses to share knowledge. 

In short, Impact Centre Erasmus: 

  • wants to put the importance of measuring impact on the map; 
  • performs complex impact measurements; 
  • aims to increase the capacity of (groups of) organizations to manage on impact; 
  • wants to further the scientific and social debate about impact measurement; 
  • shares knowledge through courses, masterclasses and (guest) lectures to bachelor and master students as well as (executive) professionals. 

Research

All businesses have an impact on society. This impact can be defined as the changes in society that can be attributed to the activities of a certain organization. Without the organization, these changes would not have happened. Impact includes both intended and unintended effects, which in turn can be either positive or negative. Organizations are increasingly being held responsible for their impact. Initially, emphasis was placed very much on unintended negative effects, such as child labor or pollution. However, companies are increasingly realizing that positive impact can be a strategy to create value (Shared Value Creation). Impact does not necessarily have to be expressed or measured in monetary value. Without proper impact measurement, the true outcome of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs or other initiatives remains unclear, and therefore impossible to strategically manage.

Within the government, there is a long tradition of measuring impact. These measurements often consist of social cost-benefit analyses, which are taken prior to decision making. They are therefore based on predictions of impact. In recent years, there has been a growing focus on the actual evaluation of the impact of government programs and policies. There is also a growing recognition, that these evaluations must reach a certain scientific level for them to yield meaningful results. Focus on so-called learning assessments is also beginning, albeit slowly, to grow. These evaluations aim not only to provide insight into the impact achieved but also to shed light on success factors and points where improvements can be made.

Civil society organizations are all pursuing a social mission. For both the implementing and donor organizations, measuring the impact of programs and projects is the only way to evaluate how far this mission has been achieved. This impact and the extent to which it has contributed to this mission is a measure of the effectiveness of these organizations.

  • The social value of entrepreneurs. An inventory of social value created by commercial small and medium enterprises (SME)
    Impact Centre Erasmus has carried out a unique study: for the first time, the social value of SMEs has been charted across the board. This study substantiates the involvement of entrepreneurs with their environment, employees and customers. The fact that small and medium-sized businesses are responsible for millions of jobs and billions in added value to the Dutch economy is known by many and has been shown in several studies. But entrepreneurs are not only important to society because of their economic contribution. The following themes were considered: SMEs as a reflection of society, development and opportunities for personnel, innovation and sustainable business models, limiting the ecological footprint, supporting or contributing to (local) organizations, and the role in the community. This research offers hard figures as well as fascinating stories that inspire and increase awareness of the social value of entrepreneurship.

    The Impactpath: an entrepreneurs guide to growth in social impact measurement
    Impact Centre Erasmus, in collaboration with others, has developed "The Impactpath", a manual on impact measurement for SME entrepreneurs. There is consensus about how impact measurement works and what the process of a good impact measurement must comply with. However, the knowledge about this is not easily accessible to SME entrepreneurs. The manual changes this by providing a structured overview of the steps that can be taken in each impact measurement, from determining the impact mission to using research results to make more impact. On a number of themes, such as the circular economy, sustainable value chains and labor market participation, concrete examples are given of how an impact measurement works with practical examples of entrepreneurs who already carry out impact measurements within these themes.

    Social Impact Bond WRZ | City Government Rotterdam | Social Impact Finance
    The Social Impact Bond (SIB) WRZ is a collaboration between the City Government Rotterdam and Social Impact Finance. A SIB is a financial instrument in which a private investor invests in solving a social issue, in this case long-term unemployment. The SIB WRZ uses a "get started" method to offer jobseekers an opportunity to reintegrate into the labor market, which means that participants receive a (subsidized) employment contract as soon as possible after they have been selected for participation. Within this Social Impact Bond, the City Government Rotterdam supplies jobseekers to WRZ. WRZ approaches these persons and ultimately offers some of them, based on the match between the employer and the jobseeker, a subsidized employment contract with the employer. Impact Centre Erasmus has been conducting a randomized controlled trial (RCT) since 2015 into the approach used within the SIB WRZ.

    Integrated Reporting
    Impact Centre Erasmus carries out research on behalf of or in collaboration with various parties into the opportunities of and methodologies for integrated thinking and integrated reporting. In various articles and studies, special attention is paid to the developments surrounding the (implementation of) the Corporate Governance Code. Integrated reporting is also a permanent part of the curriculum that Impact Centre Erasmus offers via module 3, Reporting & Auditing, of the Executive Program Corporate Social Responsibility.

    Oranjefonds 
    Impact Centre Erasmus is involved in different impact evaluation programmes concerning inclusion and poverty reduction (‘Samen uit de armoede’, ‘Groeiprogramma’). We also conduct an overall evaluation of regular initiatives that are supported by Oranjefonds to analyze the contribution to the purpose and strategic targets. The aim of Oranjefonds is to stimulate the participation of participants in daily life. With this, Oranjefonds believes that participation will lead to a better quality of life, meaningfulness and mental well-being. However, they also see daily functioning as an important element for participation. Therefore, they stimulate participation by means of a broad diversity of social initiatives for a broad range of target groups (vulnerable youth as well as elderly people is part of their programs).

    Feyenoord Foundation 
    Feyenoord Foundation, part of the soccer club Feyenoord, wants to gain more insights on the effects of their youth programs.  Last year, Feyenoord and Impact Centre Erasmus have engaged in the development of a Theory of Change, where a new focus has been placed in the social activities and goals of Feyenoord. This helped Feyenoord to manage better and more strategically towards the desired effects of their policy. Afterwards, Impact Centre Erasmus started to measure the impact of the soccer club. Impact Centre Erasmus conducts research for several programs and developed different ToC’s regarding these programs. In one of the programs, ‘Zuid voor Zuid’, they aim to contribute to social as well as employee skills of youth between 14 and 24 years of age.  

    ‘Van Gogh Connects’, Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam 
    Impact Centre Erasmus analyze and researches how the Van Gogh Museum can be relevant for bicultural young adults living in Amsterdam. With the program, the museum wants to know what is needed for the bicultural young adults to feel inclusive, to experience a sense of belonging and well-being, and to their feeling of being able to participate in the museum. Using impact measurements, where we try to develop a research methodology that is suitable for the context, the target group and the activity, we collect evidence to build upon further in the future.

    ‘Maatschappelijke Diensttijd’ e.g. ‘Social Civilian Service’, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport 
    Several Social Civilian Service projects in the Netherlands aim to harness the potential of young people (14 – 27 years of age). The question ad hand in this research is if these projects indeed enable the young to benefit as an enriching experience to extend their skills and opportunities to gain work. Which projects have these effects (the most) and what makes them is this extent so successful. The secondary question to be answered is how to upscale the most successful projects to a national level. Impact Centre Erasmus is primarily responsible for the three year research to be conducted. It is a program in collaboration with other research, consultancy and IT development experts. 

    Braenworks Academy
    Braenworks Academy is a school for artists and creative professionals. In order to contribute to the social problems many creatives face (low wages, multiple job holding, financial struggles, etc.), Braenworks Academy aims to contribute to a healthier creative sector by offering an innovative education program with a focus on entrepreneurship. The School’s underlying line of reasoning is that entrepreneurial education should imbue creatives with higher levels of entrepreneurial knowledge, intentions and behavior. As a result of that, creative individuals should gain increasing earning capacities and thereby become financially more resilient.  Impact Centre Erasmus assesses the impact of entrepreneurship education for artists, by an examination of the effects of a specific training program on artists’ psychological characteristics, personal skills, entrepreneurial skills and knowledge, entrepreneurial intention and earning capacity. By means of a quantitative survey at three measurement moments.

    VSB Fonds

    Impact Centre Erasmus has executing a literature review that is focused on the impact of social and cultural initiatives and activities on the social mobility and active citizenship of participations (as concretization of well-being and quality of life). In this literature review, we gained knowledge about (in)effective elements of cultural participation and cultural initiatives for the well-being and quality of life of people.

    Social Innovation Relay, CCP ’Future Matters’, Nationale Nederlanden
    Within the corporate citizenship program ‘Future Matters’, Nationale Nederlanden runs several community investment programs. One of these programs is the Social Innovation Relay (SIR). SIR aims to increase entrepreneurial competences, practical business experiences, and financial resilience of young people by entrepreneurship education. Impact Centre Erasmus conducted research on the effect of employee volunteering on the target group and society at large. We developed a Theory of Change (ToC) and assessed the impact of the program on the SIR participants concerning entrepreneurial intention, behavior, and social awareness and the phase of the program in which the main results are shown.

Education

Impact Centre Erasmus offers several (executive) educational courses and programs. Our programs focus on impact measurement, management and corporate social responsibility (CSR) among others. Below are three examples of executive education offered by Impact Centre Erasmus. Additionally, Impact Centre Erasmus offers courses on conscious business, strategy and diversity. Most of our education is done in Dutch. If you are looking for further English information or want to discuss the opportunities for education in English, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our Executive Program CSR has been long established and offers executives up-to-date CSR information. The program is recognized by CSR professionals in the field. The small groups offer the opportunity for networking and personal attention. A combination of three modules can be followed, each focusing on different aspects of CSR, including ethics, management, auditing and reporting.

Impact in One Day is a special masterclass organized by Impact Centre Erasmus. In one day, the fundamentals of impact (measurement) are explained. The masterclass combines theory with practical cases. The interesting and inspiring selection of speakers have years of experience in the field. Impact in One Day is suited for everyone who wants to make a positive impact on society. The masterclass is especially suited as an in-company training, as participants can focus on the challenges and goals of their own organization.

While Impact in One Day covers the fundamentals of impact measurement, Impact Strategy Accelerator takes it a step further. In two to three days every aspect of impact measurement is discussed in-depth, focusing on topics such as Theory of Change. The theory is combined with practical cases. The program is specifically altered to your organization and your goals and challenges We can provide Impact Strategy Accelerator in English, as the program is completely customized to your organization.

Contact

If you are looking for further English information about a specific study or educational program, examples of current or completed impact studies or want to commission research into the impact of your organization or project, then please do not hesitate to contact us via impactcentre@eur.nl or 010 - 40 81 521.