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How to Measure the Community Impact of Coworking


Coworking changes lives.

I know because I experienced it.

Coworking within the NextSpace Santa Cruz community enabled me to grow from a side-gigging freelance writer with a fulltime record store job, to a marketing entrepreneur serving coworking space operators around the world through Coworking Convos, the Marketing Lab, courses, coaching, talks, blog posts and more.

Coworking changes individual lives and it also has the power to transform communities.

But how do we measure the community impact of coworking? It’s a question that has been floating around for years.

Some of the coworking magic is unquantifiable. How do you measure the power of spontaneous collaboration and peer support? How do you track how many quality pieces of advice, feedback or introductions happen through coworking? How do you capture the unspoken support and camaraderie that comes with being part of an engaged coworking community?

If you’ve cracked the code, let me know.

In the meantime, there are a growing number of tools that can help clarify and measure your social, and community, impact. The Social Impact Canvas is one of my current favorites, in part because of its simplicity.

As the creators of the Canvas explain, it is “a tool to help plan, measure, and account for the changes you want to bring about in the world.”

Good stuff, right?

The Canvas is designed to help you:

  • Build a common understanding of social changes you aspire to
  • Develop a blueprint for success that will guide your work
  • Identify measurable indicators to help you stay on course
  • Agree the steps needed to maximise your social impact
  • Communicate achievements in clear and compelling ways

The four steps to completing a Social Impact Canvas are as follows:

  1. Start off by describing your impact, the end result that your
    organization is working towards.
  2. Break down your intended impact into a number of main outcomes.
    Your outcomes are the changes or effects that are most important to
    achieving your intended impact.
  3. Define the performance measures (or indicators) that will help you
    quantify and track progress towards your identified outcomes. Your
    performance measures are the results that you will measure and
    work towards.
  4. List the strategies that you will employ. These are the combination of
    actions necessary to achieve your intended results.

Simple, powerful stuff.

If you take time to create the canvas for your community, let me know how it goes.

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