Centrum für soziale Investitionen und Innovationen | Centre for Social Investment
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Case study series on the generation of social impact by nonprofit organizations (ABN AMRO research cooperation)

  • Duration: October 2012 – December 2013 (first phase)
  • Agenda: To conduct a series of case studies on nonprofit organizations in Europe, aimed at furthering theoretical and practical knowledge on the generation of social impact in different field of activity.
  • Funded by: ABN AMRO Private Banking
  • Contact: Thomas Scheuerle | Ekkehard Thümler

ABN AMRO and the Centre for Social Investment of Heidelberg University established this research cooperation project in 2012. One of the main outcomes is a series on case studies on European nonprofit organizations, with a particular focus on issues of the generation of social impact. The project is divided into two streams:

Social impact stream

This stream is based on three case studies on nonprofit organizations in the Netherlands and France. The focus is on strategic management challenges related to the generation of social impact. The project seeks to understand if and how previous results on social impact generation developed in the context of the projects 'Strategies for Impact in Philanthropy' and 'Strategies for Impact in Education' can be applied to new domains (health, environmental protection and research, development aid). Moreover, the practical relevance of scientific analysis for the strategy development of the organizations was explored. The following case studies were conducted:

  • Tara Expeditions, France: Tara is dedicated to fostering scientific research into the impact of global warming on marine ecosystems, as well as to raising public awareness related to these issues. The study discusses the challenges Tara faces in terms of its character as a hybrid organization, combining the logics of two spheres: science and civil society. Please find the case study results here.
  • Huis voor de Gezondheit (House for Health), Netherlands: This study focuses of the House for Health, a consortium of five charities in the Netherlands that shares a building for joint use. It asks how this particular arrangement can be made instrumental to fostering the charities' missions, in particular with regard to collective organizational learning.
    Please find the case study results here.
  • Cordaid, Netherlands: Cordaid aims at developing a 'Flourishing Communities Index' (FCI) intended to measure individual and collective well-being in development cooperation contexts. It is supposed to enable NGOs, local government and other stakeholders active in local and regional contexts to coordinate their contributions in order to generate evidence-based collective impact. For this purpose, philosophical discussions as well as practical attempts relevant for measuring the well-being of individuals and the communities in which they live were explored.
    Please find the case study results here.

Network impact stream

A second series of case studies highlights impact creation in networks and partnerships. This topic is highly relevant from an impact-oriented perspective and has recently gained attention in debates among practitioners and academics, for instance in the context of the distribution of social innovation. The stream takes into view philanthropic foundations, non-profit organizations, social enterprises and other relevant actors such as public authorities. Once more, the sample covers different fields of activity and different basic strategies of collective impact generation. The objective is to advance the state of knowledge on these issues by exploring the potentials and specifics of strategic network approaches in different contexts, and to provide a clearer understanding of the role philanthropic foundations can play in such processes.

  • European Climate Foundation, EU/Berlin: Using resources of several international donors to fight climate change. Thus, it represents a large pooling project in the international foundation landscape. The resources are directed to different partners to influence climate change policies in a systemic way.
  • Le Comptoir de l'Innovation, Groupe SOS, France: Use a private equity impact investing fund to promote social entrepreneurship innovation in the Nonprofit Sector. Additionally it supports private and public partners in capacity building to develop innovative social entrepreneurial ventures.
  • AMANDLA EduFootball e.V. initiates, supports, and realizes education projects in South Africa. Goal of all activities is to fight social injustice by combining Education and the motivating power of football. Therefore the organization cooperates with different partners such as the UN Sport Office for Development and Peace or the Oliver Kahn Foundation.




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