Project description and scope
The goal of the ImpactLab is to undertake cutting edge research, development measures and tools for the assessment of total impact, and apply these measures in assessment of impact of and for non-profit organizations. Total impact is understood as the social, environmental, and economic impact of an organization's activities. The ImpactLab will engage a diverse group of actors including Faculty from diverse areas (management, science, sociology, environmental science, biology, etc.), community actors, policy makers, students and organizations working in the area of impact assessment.
Contributions the ImpactLab aims to make are threefold:
- Research: The Lab will undertake extensive research in the field of Impact assessment and development of measures. In this, faculty engaged in projects from the Centre for Leadership Excellence have already started work on developing Social Impact Assessment measures and have presented their work at international conferences. Collaboration agreements have been signed with multi stakeholder initiatives in Nova Scotia and Quebec.
- Student training and support: The ImpactLab aims to provide both research support and training to students interested in areas linked to Impact Assessment; such as social and sustainable entrepreneurship, social funds, corporate social entrepreneurship, and government policy.
- Impact assessment
- Community engagement and impact assessment: Furthermore, the ImpactLab aims to provide training and support to non-profit organizations in their assessment of Impacts. To do so, the Lab will engage community actors in the development and applications of measure that will be adapted specifically to answer the needs of their organization and their sector of activity.
- Impact assessment fee for service consultancy and executive training: Lastly, the ImpactLab aims to provide consultancy and executive training in impact assessment services to for-profit organizations. The ImpactLab will therefore operate as a hybrid model organization and assure its long-term sustainability.
Phase 1, the Process of Social Entrepreneurship and Phase 2, the Social Innovation Process are both complete. Both phases were funded through Saint Mary's University's Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research: the first phase was funded through an internal grant for new faculty and the second through an internal grant for established faculty.
Current Student Training and Support
Two Sobey School PhD students are involved with the project; Annika Voltan was the student lead for the first two phases and Tasha Richards has taken the lead for phase three.
Current Community Engagement and Impact Assessment Projects
Project 1: Applied Impact Assessment
Investigators: Principal investigator - Dr. Chantal Hervieux; Co-investigator - Dr. Margaret McKee; Student investigator - Tasha Richards
Impact Assessment of the Retail Activities of a Social Enterprise
The present research aims to assess the social impact of the retail activities of a social enterprise: Hope Blooms. This is the test phase (third phase) of the Social Impact Assessment research project (see Figure 1 for a project overview). A better understanding of how their retail activities relate to their social impact is important for social enterprises as they need to justify their relevance to funders and society. While their retail activities can help sustain and provide funding for other activities, some have argued that it can also be source of conflict with the social mission. A more complete understanding of the total social impact would help social enterprises to better structure the services they provide to their members.
Funding obtained through David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services.
Project 2: Applied Impact Assessment
Investigators: Principal investigator - Dr. Chantal Hervieux; Student investigator - Tasha Richards
Impact Assessment of a Community-based Initiative
This project aims to assess the impact of initiatives from the Happy Communities project. We have a partnership with Happy Community Project through the Impactlab of the Center for Leadership Excellence. In this project, the intent is to measure through a unique approach engagement and community involvement. Our model begins from the premise that social impact assessment must start by understanding why and how actors come together, and who they consist of. It also looks at both positive and negative impacts as well as negative space.
Funding obtained through Saint Mary's University Internal Grant for Established Faculty.
The Impactlab is working with Happy Community Project to develop impact assessment measures for their different initiatives.