CSI INDICATOR ENGINE IS LIVE

Posted on the 4th April 2022

CSI AMPLIFY SOCIAL IMPACT Online

Those of you who have been following the Centre for Social Impact’s (CSI) “Amplify Social Impact” (Amplify) project since it was first announced in 2018, are no doubt very excited by the launch of the Indicator Engine!

For those of you who haven’t heard about Amplify, it is a $12M project that incorporates “a suite of online tools, a set of research reports, and series of events across Australia that will help improve social outcomes in five important social issue areas: Housing, Education, Work, Social Inclusion, and Financial Wellbeing.”

“The online platform is an integral part of the overall Amplify strategy. It incorporates the following tools:

  • Australia’s Social Pulse™ which reveals how we’re tracking in key social issue areas over time, across the country, and across cohorts;
  • Indicator Engine™ which helps organisations find the right indicators to measure so that they know when, where, and how they’re making a difference;
  • Yardstick™, the programs, outcomes, and impact database, which reveals the programs, strategies, and initiatives across the country that are achieving outcomes and impacts, providing opportunities for replication and improvement.”

READ MORE ON AMPLIFY

Indicator Engine

In March 2022, the first tool from the Amplify Online suite was launched, and it seems to have really delivered something useful for the not-for-profit sector when it comes reducing the time and resources it takes to collect social impact data.

Once you’ve developed your Outcomes Framework, you no longer need to spend time digging around looking for appropriate indicators, you can instead use the Indicator Engine and simply select from the bank of validated indicators.

There is a Wizard/ Smart Assistant to guide you through the process of quickly and easily building your survey by prompting you to use suggested indicators. You also have the option of applying a framework from within the tool (more about this below), or you can manually build your survey from scratch by selecting from the indicator list or by adding your own custom questions. Whichever option you choose, it is so much quicker than if you were to build the equivalent survey in either Survey Monkey or Google Forms.

Once you’ve built your survey, you can then distribute it via email, set up as a kiosk (if service users were to complete the survey on an ipad in reception for example), or offline for those times when you’re working remotely without access to the internet.

Best of all they’ve launched the Indicator Engine at the perfect price point, with the majority of not-for-profits being able to access it for free or at low cost. So if your organisation is struggling with survey data collection I strongly recommend you take a look at the Indicator Engine.

Yardstick

Added functionality will come online with the launch of Yard Stick, which will allow you to automatically analyse the data you’ve collected through the Indicator Engine. Yard Stick will also make it possible to benchmark against other programs being run around Australia that are measuring against the same indicators. So essentially you can compare different programs, cohorts, locations etc.

Yardstick is due to launch later in 2022.

ASVB & Indicator Engine

You might be wondering why we’re so keen to support the Indicator Engine? In fact many people spoke to me concerned that Amplify Online would be direct competition for the ASVB. But this isn’t the case at all, the Australian Social Value Bank (ASVB) is still the only social impact measurement platform on the market that allows you to understand the social value that your program creates.

Some of our ASVB subscribers have struggled with using the free survey tools available, which, over the past six years, has lead to many discussions about building data collection into the ASVB platform. But there’s also a segment of our users who have invested in subscribing to paid social impact data collection tools, or who are obliged by their funding bodies to use specific platforms, so we didn’t want to introduce another data collection component to further complicate their existing stack.

During this time we’ve spoken to a number of existing data collection platforms to look at working in partnership; we’ve  discussed developing APIs to seamlessly connect with these other platforms, but the outcome data required to be entered into the ASVB Value Calculator is so minimal that it just didn’t seem like money well spent. We also found that a number of these organisations we spoke with just didn’t have the same values or goals that aligned with ours. But the crux of it is that we’ve been reluctant to invest in developing data collection functionality when there are so many platforms already doing this well, so we believe that every organisation should choose the data collection platform that best suits their needs.

With the launch of the Indicator Engine, we feel that this is a really good platform that has similarly aligned values regarding helping the not-for-profit sector to measure their social impact, with a focus on making it simpler and easier for everyone, whilst maintaining a high level of rigour. This is why CSI have gone to the trouble of pre-populating validated indicators and why the ASVB has built our bank of methodologically consistent wellbeing values. Both of these aspects of social impact measurement can be time consuming and influence the level of rigour of your end results.

We have started discussions with CSI to look at embedding the ASVB surveys as a framework within the Indicator Engine. This would make it very easy for ASVB users to build their surveys, by simply selecting the ASVB framework, then toggling-on the appropriate survey questions that align to the ASVB outcomes they wish to apply in their social impact calculations.

Once the survey data has been collected, this provides the evidence required to apply the ASVB values. The aggregated survey results can then be easily transferred into the beneficiaries table within the ASVB calculator.

Now this doesn’t in any way mean that ASVB users will have to use the Indicator Engine, it just means that if you choose to do so, it will hopefully be even easier with all of our ASVB survey questions prepopulated in the ASVB framework.

So if you’re a current ASVB subscriber and you’re already using the Indicator Engine we’d love to hear your thoughts. Otherwise watch this space, and I’ll keep you posted with our progress.

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