Standards are communities, not documents.

The Common Approach is a set of four impact measurement standards that are created for – and governed by – social purpose organizations. This is an inclusive approach to building a standard.

Standards are communities, not documents.

We believe that a standard is a community more than a document. To create  a standard, a community must create documents, but it is the community, not the documents that will sustain over time. A standard becomes strong and effective by focusing on building community, not by focusing on building documents.

To create a community we are committed to creating mutli-stakeholder participation that is inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible.

  • We commit to being accountable to all stakeholders through transparent and reliable communications allowing for broad input to ensure relevance and feasibility of adoption.
  • We commit to scalling in an inclusive way, so people and organizations know they are making a difference.
  • We create processes that are designed to be inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible.
  • We recognize that processes must be proportional to the capacity and resources that the Common Approach has; we will work to secure the resources for a resilient, inclusive initiative.
  • In allowing for complexity and moving at the pace of trust and adoption, we will seek to have a balance between centralized and distributed decision making that achieves our goals while holding strategies for longer-term impact.

We do this through our goverannce structure, Action Tables, and our engagements with social purpose organizations (such as webinars, surveys and reserach).

Many people have come together to support the development of the Common Approach.


The initial community-driven processes are nearing completion

Meet our Community

Transitional Governance Group

The Transitional Governance Group has been established and is currently in the process of defining the structure of the governance model for the Common Approach. Thanks to these collaborators we have a governance plan.

Common Approach Governance

Governance of the four standards is undertaken by a 12-15 member Governance Group. At least six of these members are selected from the broader community. This was done through a call for nominations that closed on September 11, 2020. Another six are appointed by the Action Tables. Six Action Tables are permanent committees of the Governance Group. As stated above, one member from each Action Table has a position on the Governance Group. Read more...

The Action Tables are taking shape, evolving from earlier working groups.

1. National Advisory Committee of Social Purpose Organizations (active)

2. Common Impact Data Standard Action Table

3. Common Foundations Action Table (active – currently the Common Foundations Champions)

4. Common Framework Action Table

5. Common Form Action Table

6. Social Funder Advisory Committee (active)



Our Partners

Common Foundations Champions


Margerit Roger

Margerit Roger

Margerit works as a program planner, evaluator and trainer in the social purpose sector to highlight the critical role of service-providing organizations in addressing social challenges. Deeply influenced by her experiences with adult literacy learners, newcomers,...

Rachel Berdan

Rachel Berdan

As the Social Enterprise Program Manager & Coach at Pillar Nonprofit Network Rachel is part of the Libro Social Enterprise Incubator and Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network. Rachel is a storyteller at heart. Prior to Pillar, she worked with B Lab and made...

Kerri Klein

Kerri Klein

Kerri worked for almost 15 years in non-profit and government organizations that were seeking ways to effect change. She worked in roles where she both sought funds and granted funds, which allowed her to see both sides of the evaluation process. Together with four...

Cathy Lang

Cathy Lang

Cathy is a program designer, researcher, strategic planner, business developer, and non-profit sector-builder. She has coached numerous social enterprises in designing and testing their social value propositions. She began her career as a social worker with a strong...

Laurie Ringaert

Laurie Ringaert

Laurie spent much of her early career as a researcher. About ten years ago she applied for a position at Seattle King County Public Health as an evaluator and the 'light went on and she made the shift from researcher to impact evaluator. In 2015, she started Change...

Bryn Sadownik

Bryn Sadownik

Fifteen years ago, Bryn was applying skills developed through her Master’s program in Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University (SFU) to work as a consultant and researcher. When the opportunity to lead a new pilot program in impact assessment...

Social Enterprise Institute

Social Enterprise Institute

The Social Enterprise Institute offers two courses – the Common Foundations of Impact Measurement, a six-part introductory video series (free), and a comprehensive online course ($350), designed for social purpose organizations that are serious about social impact...

Garth Yule

Garth Yule

Garth has a degree in communication and community economic development and worked passionately with environmental non-profits and university students’ unions through the early 2000s. Garth now uses that expertise to guide his work at Junxion Strategy, to engage with...

Common Foundations Leadership

The initial articulation of the Common Foundations benefited from the following organizations.

Aligned Softwares

Software providers who have adopted the Common Impact Data Standard:

Common Impact Data Standard Leadership

This work is being done in collaboration with Professor Mark Fox at the Centre for Social Services Engineering at the University of Toronto.

   Carleton University

Social Funders Advisory Board

They are reviewing and testing the Common Approach standards to make sure they meet their criteria for due diligence, grant applications and impact evaluation.

National Social Purpose Organizations Advisory Committee


The Committee is providing feedback and advice to the Common Approach, contributing to building a standard of impact measurement in Canada.

Our Supporting Partners

The Common Approach to Impact Measurement is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada by the Government of Canada . The Common Approach is part of the Government of Canada’s Investment Readiness Program. 

Social enterprises and investors want to move forward with better impact measurement but they want to move forward together. The Common Approach is about building the community that will advance impact measurement together. 

Kate Ruff

Co-Director, Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (3ci), Assistant Professor, Accounting, Sprott School of Business, Carleton University

Join the Common Approach Community


Make sure social purpose organizations and others know that you are compliant with the Common Impact Data Standard.

The story so far

The Common Approach is an evolving story about the growing impact measurement community.

Showcase your alignment

Showcase your alignment

For the standard to grow, people and organizations need to be able to demonstrate that they are using the Common Approach. Social purpose organizations aligning with all five practices, trainers and consultants, developers can request use of the identifier.

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Four approaches to evaluation

Four approaches to evaluation

Meet consultants Cathy Lang, Kerri Klein, Laurie Ringaert, and Garth Yule. They have incorporated Common Foundations into their work with social purpose organizations.

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