New Tool Could Help Objectively Evaluate Impact of Social Enterprises on Local Communities

As more corporations seek to quantify the social benefits they bring to local communities, Deloitte, one of the leading accounting firms and the largest professional services network in the world, has developed the Social Impact Measurement Model (SIMM) to provide some hard, accurate numbers.

SIMM is a machine-learning tool designed to forecast the impact of a large corporate investment—such as the opening of a new office or headquarters—on a community. It works with more than 140 social measures, including education, housing, family and migration, income and employment, and transportation.

Companies like Amazon and Toyota often accept multimillion-dollar tax incentives to relocate to or open a new factory, facility or office in a given county. Beyond the creation of new jobs, it’s difficult to quantify the corporation’s social impact in terms of factors like alleviating poverty, improving local schools or boosting public health.

“Our Social Impact Measurement Model accurately predicts what could result from a large capital investment—or what may or may not happen in its absence,” Deloitte says in a press release. “This machine-learning model estimates the social impact of investments at the U.S. county level for the four years following the investment, analyzing 142 social measures ranging from child poverty and reading proficiency to carpooling and population migration. The SIMM helps people better understand what a specific investment’s impact might be as well as why certain locations would see greater or lesser improvements than others. This can support more informed decision-making by companies, community leaders and policymakers—and enable greater coordination among them to help further the public good.”

Deloitte’s SIMM can also help investors objectively determine the value that a new social enterprise can bring to a community, said Janet Foutty, chair and CEO of Deloitte Consulting LLP, according to AZ Business Magazine. “With the rise of the social enterprise—those organizations looking beyond revenue and profit to understand their impact on society—many of our clients are raising the profile of purpose-driven outcomes,” she said. “(SIMM) enables our clients to understand if their investments will pay social dividends, providing value to companies, communities and local governments.”

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