Miller Center Principles of Social Impact Assessment

Our approach to social impact assessment focuses on social enterprise success. Our goal is to help enterprises scale in the quantity and quality of their work. Our work also serves other impact ecosystem partners, including investors, governments, NGOs, foundations, and more.

The following principles guide our impact assessment efforts:

  • We focus on the advancement of women and climate resilience solutions, and support only the most impact-focused and impact-capable social enterprises.
  • The most important assessment is a social enterprise’s impact on its customers and community.
  • Just like the work of social entrepreneurs is important as both process and product, how we assess is as important as what we assess.

Key Performance Metrics

Social Impact Assessment Values


  • Focuses on social enterprise's ability to deliver results, using efficient approaches that provide relevant, real-time feedback
  • Applies the best available information to help enterprises understand and achieve impact
  • Bolsters learning for improvement among enterprises, our own programming, and the field of social enterprise and development


  • Relies on entrepreneurs and their customers to drive the design of assessment
  • Applies collaborative approaches that help build the skills and agency of both social entrepreneurs and their customers
  • Engages our community of students and faculty


  • Addresses the broad set of connected challenges that social enterprises face
  • Enables a shared strategy among enterprises
  • Promotes expanded conversations about the role of social entrepreneurship in human development

Objective and Rigorous   

  • Embeds reflexive and constructive self-evaluation
  • Embraces transparency and engages partners for external review
  • Applies the best methods and technology available

Projects in Process

Miller Center has a number of projects underway:

  • Student and faculty fellowships: We offer several opportunities for SCU students and faculty to support social impact assessment. These include the Global Social Benefit Fellowship and Summer Chair opportunities.
  • Capturing lean data: We will be supporting Miller Center GSBI Alumni in using mobile technology to collect critical data at the customer level. In addition, some of our alumni offer their own mobile platforms for social impact data collection. We are working to link these alumni to other enterprises.
  • Applying the Sustainable Development Goals: We are working to re-frame our impact assessment to the universally-recognized and actionable Sustainable Development Goals. This will compliment our efforts to continue reporting other standardized metrics.
  • Using big data and business analytics for ecosystem and impact insights: We are working with faculty and students at the Leavey School of Business at SCU to apply business analytics and big data methods to inform the work of our alumni, Miller Center, and the social entrepreneur ecosystem.
  • Anticipatory approaches to assessment: We are exploring the application of anticipatory impact assessment methods that summarize the best available evidence and apply it to local contexts. This will help inform the investor prospectus.

Next Steps

Many of the issues social enterprises address are the negative external costs of an imperfect global economy that has so far focused on financial impact. By measuring what matters most to social enterprises, Social Impact Assessment is helping move our economy towards addressing these costs and valuing what matters most.

When impact metrics double as business metrics, it becomes clear that social enterprises are also creating a fairer, just, and more humane global economy.