How Do I Get Started?

1. Define Your Social Goals.  No matter whether you are a direct provider of financial products and services, a network, an association, an investor, a donor, or any other type of stakeholder, your first step is defining your own social goals.  What are the specific social goals you are seeking to accomplish?

2. Assess Your Current Level of Social Performance.  The Universal Standards for Social Performance Management is a comprehensive manual of best practices created by and for people in microfinance as a resource to help financial institutions achieve their social goals. If you are a direct service provider, you can read the manual and do an informal self-assessment; ask yourself, "Is my institution implementing each of these practices?" If you are not a direct service provider, the question would be, are my partner institutions doing this? Additionally, the SPI 4 assessment tool developed by CERISE is fully aligned with the Universal Standards and is free to all. We encourage you to use the SPI 4 to assess your performance against the Universal Standards.

3. Be Transparent about Your Performance Data.  Measure, monitor, and publish your performance according to social performance metrics. What to measure, and to whom you report, will depend on your stakeholder group. For example, if you're an MFI, report to the Microfinance Information eXchange (MIX) by completing MIX's Social Performance Standards Report. If you are an investor, report your data according to the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS), developed by the Global Impact Investing Network, and/or fill out CGAP's MIV Survey, which is based on the industry standards for MIV reporting, the CGAP Microfinance Investment Vehicle Disclosure Guidelines.

4. Manage Your Social Performance.  For all organizations, effective performance management involves a continual process of translating mission and values into practice.  This process has several key steps:

  • Setting clear goals and creating a deliberate strategy to achieve them
  • Monitoring and assessing progress toward achieving your goals, and
  • Using information to improve overall organizational performance.

The more that management integrates social performance values and data into decisions about the daily operations and strategy of the organization, the more likely the organization is to attain its social goals.

5. Take Advantage of Existing Tools.  A wide variety of complementary social performance initiatives and tools are available to respond to the demands of various stakeholders at both the retail and investor level. To see which resources are available for your type of institution and your goals, review the market map and initiative descriptions below.