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Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4669;

Enabling Effective Social Impact: Towards a Model for Impact Scaling Agreements

University of St. Gallen, Dufourstrasse 50, 9000 St.Gallen, Switzerland
KPM Center for Public Management, University of Bern, 3001 Bern, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 November 2018 / Revised: 3 December 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 7 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Financial Markets)
PDF [350 KB, uploaded 11 December 2018]


Scaling is a critical organizational phase for social organizations: their upfront financial needs increase dramatically. This paper responds—on the basis of initial research on capacity, up-, and deep scaling strategies—to the need for integrated knowledge on financing processes within the context of social organizations’ impact scaling phase. An exploration of a market leader’s processes uncovered both strengths and struggles, which in turn enabled new levels of understanding related to the research question, “How can impact scaling agreements enable effective social impact?” The fact that the financial provider examined in this empirical study lacked alignment in its scaling approach, goals, and reporting processes over time hampered its effectiveness and sustainability. The findings from this qualitative inter-temporal content analysis enable the development of a model for impact scaling agreements. This shows ongoing flows between the provider and recipient of financial and nonfinancial resources and impact information, as well as decision-making and reporting processes. The outcome of researching the question “how can impact scaling agreements enable effective social impact?” was the identification of three success enhancers for effective social impact scaling agreements to enable social impact: (1) Financial provider alignment pre- and per-engagement in terms of expectations with regard to scaling approach and goals; (2) Scaling approach coherence in terms of understanding and acting upon the inter-relatedness and, in fact, mutual dependency between capacity, up-, and deep scaling; (3) Impact reporting alignment of the target group with the financial recipient and the financial provider. This research makes a twofold contribution to the literature. First, the pivotal role of internal alignment between mission, strategy, reporting, and decision-making processes is explored; second, the three scaling strategies of capacity, up-, and deep scaling are established as interrelated dimensions of the same phenomenon.
Keywords: social finance; social impact scaling; social entrepreneurship; social impact investment; foundations social finance; social impact scaling; social entrepreneurship; social impact investment; foundations
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Aschari-Lincoln, J.; Jacobs, C.D. Enabling Effective Social Impact: Towards a Model for Impact Scaling Agreements. Sustainability 2018, 10, 4669.

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