Jason Saul, Mission Measurement, on Measuring Social Impact

Twitter: @JasonaSaul

Jason Saul is the CEO of Mission Measurement, and one of the nation’s leading experts on measuring social impact. He has advised some of the world's leading corporations, governments and nonprofits on measurement and social innovation, including: McDonald's, Disney, Walmart, Kraft, Cisco, Easter Seals, the Smithsonian,USAID, and other state and federal agencies.

Jason serves on the faculty of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where he teaches corporate social responsibility and nonprofit management. Jason is the author of numerous books and articles on social impact measurement and strategy, including: Benchmarking for Nonprofits: How to Manage, Measure and Improve Performance (Fieldstone Press 2006); Social Innovation, Inc.: Five Strategies to Drive Business Value through Social Change (Jossey-Bass, October 2010); and The End of Fundraising: How to Raise More by Selling Your Impact (Jossey-Bass, February 2011). 

Jason was awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for leadership and public service and was a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow. In 2008, Jason was recognized as one of Crain’s Chicago Business “40 under 40” business leaders, and in 2010, he was named by BusinessWeek as one of the Nation’s 25 Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs.

Jason holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, an M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a B.A. in Government and French Literature from Cornell University.

Today Jason gives us a more detailed look into the metrics and algorithms that drive Mission Measurement, and why it is such a crucial component of lifting the social sector, and improving organizations. For as long as the social sector has existed, funders and change agents alike have remained in the dark when it comes to measuring real performance and impact. How do we crack the code of social impact, and create a real, mainstream economic currency for the value of social change?

Jason and his team have worked relentless on this question, and the result has been the Impact Genome Project, a revolutionary new system that can predict social outcomes before an investment. This is a comprehensive evidence-base of what works in social change. They have coded every single possible research paper, report, or study, in order to create a standardized outcomes taxonomy. By doing so, they are enabled to create predictive data, as well as benchmark and compare various social organizations, no matter what sector or field they are working in. 

This is truly a groundbreaking and transformational moment for the social sector. Jason Saul and his colleagues are on the forefront of this movement, and this interview is a must-listen. 


In this interview, we discuss:

  1. How do we crack the code of measuring social impact? (1:00)
  2. How they are creating 'scorecards' for any social progress, through a synthetic way to measure outcomes. (12:00)
  3. What is the Impact Genome Project, and why it will revolutionize the social sector. (18:30)
  4. How they took over 77,000 possible impact measurements to create a standardized outcomes taxonomy across all social sectors. (19:45) 
  5. How they seek to become the "Bloomberg Terminal of the social sector." (22:05)
  6. Why the current relationship of philanthropic funding and nonprofit fundraising is already outdated, and how it is going to change. (31:00)


"The social and government sectors are the only ones to do their measurements after they invest, instead of  before hand."


  1. More information on the Mission Measurement Impact Genome project. 
  2. Cracking the Code on Social Impact in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
  3. Other resources and white papers from Mission Measurement. (highly recommended)
  4. Clinton Global Initiative partnership announcement. 
  5. Named one of the Nation's 25 Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs by Bloomberg Businessweek.
  6. All of the books written by Jason Saul. 
  7. The Difference Between Spending Money and Buying Outcomes article. 
  8. Book Recommendation: "Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society " by Jim Manzi (in Amazon.com)


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