Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Community Development

Metrics Matter: A Human Development Approach to Measuring Social Impact

Author(s):

December 2011

Community Development Investment Review

Measuring social impact appears daunting. Many CRA-obligated institutions are trying to comply with regulations that they provide banking services (beyond deposit) to low-and middle-income communities. Few want to be held accountable for outcomes beyond their control when they are contributing just one piece to a larger effort, and most lack the capacity to assess social impacts in a meaningful way on their own. Yet although the reluctance of CRA-obligated institutions to wade into this area is understandable, business as usual—that is, calling lending “impact investing” without targeting or measuring impacts—is not a particularly defensible option.

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