How do you quantify impact

Social impact initiatives are often considered intangible. This can have far reaching unintended consequences, we don’t often think about. Strangely enough, using the right metrics can bring home the scale of issues that need to be resolved and push for much needed action. But the question remains, what are the right metrics to support impact and the organisations that make this possible? What data do you need to take action…and act!

Case in point is Steph’s Ladles of Love (NGO) – they are truly committed and care deeply about the community they serve. This is evident in the positive and productive engagement they have with the community on a monthly basis by addressing food security needs. The need of the community is clear. This is a direct match to the work this amazing NGO is doing. But how do we and is it even possible to measure impact?

Context: Impact in detail

The Freedom Farm community is a peri-urban settlement just outside Cape Town International Airport. The community houses between 50 to 80 households, each with 5 to 12 people. 200-Children in a 600 people settlement live in Freedom Farm. Nutritious meals are essential for young children’s physical and mental growth, and well-being. These children often do not have access to regular daily meals.

Steph’s Ladles of Love monthly lunch feeds 150 children in the community, on average. They are provided with a warm, home-cooked meal prepared by 6 to 8 volunteers. Individuals and companies on occasion sponsor vegetables that are packed and distributed amongst households. This enables parents to provide nutritious cooked meals to the children, when possible.

In contrast, if Steph’s Ladles of Love was not present, this would mean these individuals would not have access to a warm, cooked and nutritious meal. As it stands, a significant number of children survive the month, often missing and skipping meals. This translates to a growing part of our population becoming disconnected and disenfranchised.

What does it take to feed 150 children? 

The morning of the lunch, volunteers and community prepare a hot meal for the children. An economically viable option is to prepare a simple stew with rice. Like a simple old-school Kook en Geniet recipe, here’s what it takes to feed 150 children:

  • 70 kg potatoes
  • 10 kg onions
  • 10 boxes of beef stock cubes
  • 3 kg soy mince
  • 10 kg frozen mixed vegetables
  • 20 kg rice as accompaniment

This is a relatively paltry amount considering the impact members of this community could be having. Clearly, there are missed socio-economic opportunities for engagement, not just here but throughout our larger societal framework. Here’s the thing, if I told you about a community that is impoverished and could really do with support, the response would be “someone should do something about it”. But if I linked that to 200 children missing meals on a regular basis, your response could be slightly different. Data has a powerful role to play, turning ideas to action. Makes you think…?

To actively contribute towards this worthy cause, contact Steph’s Ladles of Love and follow them on Facebook. Join up for their annual Christmas celebration.

About the Author

Janie Potgieter is a Leadership Development and Social Impact Driver. Janie is a longtime TOMA-Now collaborator and representative in Hong Kong.

She holds an MA in Linguistics and Language Acquisition from the University of Stellenbosch.