Social Impact and Evaluation

Measuring impact against desired outcomes 

Many organizations struggle with defining and measuring success. How can organizations measure their contribution to social good, empower their customers/clients, create a workplace culture of innovation, and deliver successful products/services? 

The iSchool has been involved in large-scale, international projects that have successfully measured the impact of services offered by libraries, firms and NGOs (non-governmental organizations). The results have yielded new methodologies for designing studies and assisting organizations in making strategic decisions about service and product offerings.


The iSchool’s expertise and research in impact and evaluation can assist organizations in the following ways:

  • Implementing a methodology for measuring the impact of an organization’s work
  • Designing studies to answer critical questions, including cost/benefit analysis, ROI and positive intangibles
  • Conducting regular surveys to understand user satisfaction and recommendations for improvement
  • Implementing business experiments, randomized control trials (RCTs) and A-B tests to maximize key performance indicators for both financial and social impact
  • Building data collection and analysis protocols to meet multiple bottom lines
  • Measuring the impact of information services (content, design, dissemination) on organizations’ strategic initiatives
  • Identifying measures of success or key performance indicators

Projects and Research

Global Impact Study and Public Access Computing Landscape Study
Conducted in more than 25 countries by the iSchool’s Technology and Social Change group, this study looked at the difference technology made to people and highlighted the benefits compared with the costs. The research findings contributed new methodologies and understanding of how people in developing countries experience technology. 

US Impact Study
The iSchool conducted the first, large-scale study on the ways library patrons use public computers and Internet access in public libraries, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. The study found that the use of library technology had significant impact in four critical areas: employment, education, health, and making community connections.

Communities Connect Network
A network of community technology centers, libraries and tribal organizations in Washington State obtained federal and state funding to increase broadband adoption and use in the state, and is being used as a model across the country for similar efforts.

US Consumer Mobile Phone Choices
A study to understand the impact of information provision on consumer inattention and bias in mobile phone contract choice.

Impact of Mobile Banking
Researchers are working with NGOs and firms in six developing countries to better measure the ways in which various technologies affect different dimensions of wealth, welfare, and happiness of individuals, households, and communities.

Cost-Benefit Analysis in Chile
The proliferation of public access venues, such as cybercafes, telecenters, and public libraries, in developing countries has made it important to understand what value and perceived costs users associate with using and having access to these venues.

Faculty Experts

Joshua Blumenstock
Chris Coward
Mike Crandall
Karen Fisher
Ricardo Gomez
Araba Sey