Co-operative Performance Indicators
Non-Financial Impact Assessment for Co-operatives: Demonstrating the Co-operative Difference
Importance of Research
We are seeing a great change in how impact is regarded and measured, and thus how organizations, businesses, different orders of government etc. are evaluated and evaluated themselves. We are seeing a new array of metrics being applied that measure and evaluate beyond the purely economic to include social and environmental indicators of impact. We are seeing an expansion of what is labelled as impact and how impact in measured to include a vast array of methodologies and frameworks such as corporate social responsibility, sustainability reporting, corporate accountability or corporate citizenship and many others. We are seeing take up of these methodologies and frameworks within the private, public and social economy sectors.
Co-operatives are not immune to the new impact assessment ideologies that are emerging and the changes in reporting and measuring that go hand and hand with them. In fact the co-operative sector should be a leader in expanded impact measurement because of co-operatives’ inherent social (and increasingly environmental) nature. There are examples of co-operatives from the Canadian co-operative sector that have successfully and fully embraced an expanded reporting ledger including Vancity Credit Union, The Co-operators and Mountain Equipment Co-op. Whereas, other co-operatives live and breathe sustainability in terms of a triple bottom line without recording or measuring their impact such as renewable energy co-operatives, sustainable food co-operatives or housing co-operatives.
It is time for the co-operative sector in Canada to fully embrace the measurement of their social and environmental impact as standard practice, using universal indicators which can be used as benchmarks, for comparison purposes and as guides of what to aim for. A participatory action research project with the goal to create a sustainable measurement tool for the ongoing practice of the recording and measurement of social, environmental, sustainability and co-operative impact is in the best interest of the co-operative sector.
This research will mobilize the Canadian co-operative sector to not just think about their non-financial impact in terms of anecdotes and vague results; but, to begin to ask co-operatives to report, measure and evaluate themselves not just using the economic metrics but also social, environmental, sustainability and co-operative indicators.
- Learn more about the research questions, objectives and outcomes here.
- Meet the Project Advisory Team
Funding and Support (to date)
CEARC has been the lead funder of this research with grants provided by CPA Canada. Additional funding has been provided by the Measuring the Co-operative Difference Research Network (SSHRC CURA 2010-2015) and through Mitacs (2016 and 2017). Support has also been provided by individual co-operatives.