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This is another idea with Tammy (and Doug has been part of some discussions too). Impact measurement has been a challenge for the non-profit sector for quite some time, also issues with transparency and lack of coordination. Can we build a new holochain system to be used in measuring and monetizing impact in non-profits. Something which also fosters more innovative collaboration in non-profits using a network to leverage resources and knowledge to build capacity more effectively. This would also be in the area of girls rights/empowerment programs.
I guess I need to understand what would be the purpose of 'measuring and monetising impact in non-profits'. What does 'building capacity more effectively' mean? These seem to be terms taken from the financial sector, which are obviously important if money is the criterion, but I'm not sure what part they play when using more humanitarian criteria.
We monetise and measure already, just really badly @annah. Lots of non-profits get huge chunks of money and often its very hard to see what leads to real change (of the type also wanted by those apparently being supported). Organisations that give money want to get the most "impact" they can, they want to know they are doing good (and increasingly that they are doing so in ways that operate on more progressive models of change than in the past). So yes, very much connected to financial measurement and many of our current systems, but much more transparent and much more supportive of a "values ecosystem" with sharing and collaboration than we have now.
Measuring impact is probably very difficult. It's spread over time and space, so in order to find out if something had an impact in all the times and all the places, everything would needed to be checked all the time (does "measure" mean boolean yes/no checks to be accumulated or more finer grained "degrees of impact"?), do you have an idea how to go about it, in the non-profit organization/project context? I can more imagine what Tammy has in mind, is that the same or different? I think academia has the "impact measurement" for the publication of research papers, if a publication gets cited in subsequent research papers, they do the Google crawling/pagerank thing (of questionable quality, what kind of "impact" are we looking at, can it be tricked/faked?), but not on/for the web, instead, for their terrible print-oriented universe.
Thanks for your ideas @skreutzer. Impact is perhaps the word that many NGOs and donors are using now but I would probably choose value, thinking more about it now. Impact of anything can be as complex or simple as we choose for different purposes. For my context its the impact of a sports based empowerment program for girls, if a girls says it has benefited her confidence/capacities in life decisions/education etc. Those benefits are perhaps also seen in other trackable factors e.g. school attendance, grades etc even though of course there are multiple influences and attributing what came from what is never that clear. However maybe that is good enough. I am thinking of it in terms of a value ecosystem - if a girl attending the program reports "that was awesome and has given me loads of skills for my life!" that would be the kind of thing I as a donor would be more keen to put my money behind. A direct connection to the customer so to speak. These are all early ideas and once Tammy is back from her holidays hopefully we can flesh it all out a bit more.
@skreutzer and I fully agree with you regarding academia. I was part of that world in the past and heard lots of stories regarding shady efforts to inflate these scores rather than actually doing something useful with the findings of the research.
I think @tammyleameyer might have some kind of feed (lifestream?) in mind that lists all activities/contributions, so regardless of measurable impact, one could see what an individual/group is actually doing (how much, where, how, when), so it would be easier to generally support such efforts (not necessarily a single project, but the general area/direction/mission) with money ideally, and that would be more from the producers perspective, putting the track record out proactively (maybe even GitHub-style contribution stats: https://github.com/skreutzer or https://github.com/publishing-systems/automated_digital_publishing/graphs/contributors - they also had a nice punch card to see at which hours contributions are checked in, but it's removed now for unknown, dubious reasons). Maybe I'm over- or mis-interpreting her, but then it would still be one valid way to go about it.
What you're proposing sounds more like from the donor's perspective who wants to learn where to invest the money optimally. That implies an intended effect or "ROI" of some sort, and faces a different problem, that those who need the money the most don't get it because they lack the money to produce results that would attract the funding, and those efforts also suffer from the problem that they're not distinguishable from projects that are just hot air and can never get off the ground, for example, if they're not taken seriously by their own founder or miss a serious showstopper, or are fraud anyway, or duplicate an already existing initiative, etc. In that kind of situation, let's try to come up with creative models, for example: there's a directory of all projects and people get 100 points/stars every month to distribute them over the projects that helped them or at least have a proposal/presentation/mission that a reader finds interesting/important enough to spend his points on, and then it wouldn't be a hindrance that people who are positively affected need to register an account, but a proof that they find it important enough to obtain an account. If the 100 points (or better just 3 or 5, so people don't spend only 1 point of 100 for "saving" them) are already spent, it would reset to 100 at the beginning of the next month. A donor could look at which project received which points, to learn if one person spend all 100 of a single month for one project and then never anything again (having really been positively affected and expressing that as an one-off impulse), regularly distributing their points over several projects (probably wanting to support the projects in a general sense because of their mission, as a weighted votum), and other constellations if somebody gives points to each presentation in a certain project/problem category or randomly distributed, or only occasionally with longer periods of time in between (project seems to have a way to affect/influence/impact/re-attract the user over a long time without being too much connected because of being a staff member or something). Once people learn that the points can attract funding, they'll try to game the system, be it by directly selling their monthly points or by fake accounts, and then how could we design around that? It soon gets a little messy here ;-) I just want to say that it might be difficult to come up with game mechanics that lead to results that are better than the status quo, not because the status quo is so good, but because it's difficult to come up with good game mechanics. What if excessive spending of points reduces the reset at the next month, so if I spend 100 in one month, I only get 1 new point next month and 2 in two months, but if I spend 50 in an entire month, I get 25 new ones on top to a total of 75 in the next, so cheating requires more time and is less valuable than the 100 point vote of a new person with a single impulse vote ever? How could such a thing even be started, if nobody knows about it? It might rather life in the spaces of fundraising, crowdfunding.
Not going full direct marketplace like Bountysource, Amazon Mechanical Turk, 99designs, or other things like Patreon, Fluttr, etc.
With Google page rank and academic Impact Factor (has it's own Wikipedia article!) as examples that suffer from cheating, the measurement of impact might better relate to trust, and as there's a distinction between producers and consumers (apologize for those industrial terms, but how else to describe what's going on in that particular framing?), the connection to a trusted assessment/evaluation/measurement might need relation to an expensive build-up of reputation and a considerable loss penalty for faking favorable measurements, that's probably what non-profits and initiatives are already doing right now in some form. Feels like back to field 1, one of the wicked problems (also with it's own Wikipedia page).
Or why do you need to measure impact, what function does it fulfill/serve? Isn't it to establish trust or reputation, to convince those who have the money to invest into projects that likely can carry it out, rather well than not, them not having the financial resources themselves? Then we're entering complicated territory again, there's probably also smart vs. dumb money, and all sorts of other problems and questions.
I haven't forgotten this conversation @skreutzer just have my focus elsewhere with other ideas but I will come back to it as you had some great ideas and questions, thanks! :-)