Canadian policy decision-making has utilized case studies extensively in recent years. Johnston Research Inc. (JRI) has completed more evaluation-related case studies over the past 4 years than in the previous 15 years of our evaluation work. To understand the growing application of case studies, we interviewed clients and contacts from First Nations that had been case study sites for our government clients, to understand what aspects of case study evaluation research had helped them share their opinions and improve their programs, and what aspects had not. We then interviewed our government clients, asking how well case studies served their evaluation purposes and their programs or policy development efforts. JRI conducted and financed this study to help us improve our own approaches for conducting case studies in Aboriginal populations and to share these findings with others. This article presents our interview findings on the value of case studies for Aboriginal evaluation projects and shares some best practices for conducting case studies within, and with, First Nations. Finally, we explore the impact case studies have had on Canadian policy.
Strategic decision making and evaluation in philanthropic giving and social investment requires good-quality information about the social impacts of that investment. One way to meet this need is by calculating a social return on investment (SROI) measure, akin to the return on investment (ROI) approach used in business analysis. Despite much buzz in the field, SROI measurements are rarely used, in part because of the complexity of the calculations but also because of a number of thorny and often expensive organizational challenges associated with implementing an SROI process. This article explores these implementation challenges by comparing four social venture organizations in the health care field—two in the Netherlands and two in the United States—that have utilized some sort of SROI measurement. We summarize the SROI process and identify the specific organizational challenges in each case. Lessons learned from this analysis include the value of process versus product and the importance of fitting the type of measurement to the organizational context. We conclude with a summary of best practices for organizations and social investors who might try to make effective use of SROI measure