The Outward Bound Trust: Social Impact Report 2017


Not everything that matters can be measured and not everything that is measured matters

This famous saying always comes to mind when I think about the work of The Outward Bound Trust, our social impact and our ability to measure and demonstrate the value of our work to the outside world.

For some, a belief that powerful adventurous experiences go on to produce real learning of use in everyday life is simply a matter of faith. It follows as night follows day and it does not need the appliance of science to make the case.

To them, Outward Bound Trust is about alchemy, magic and art. For others, a rigorous evidence base of quantitative and qualitative data along with longitudinal research is necessary before such experiences can be recognised as effective. Until you can hold it in your hand and measure it very precisely, it must be suspect.

At The Outward Bound Trust we firmly believe that the truth lies somewhere in the middle – where science meets art. This is our fourth Social Impact Report and we are proud of both the way we have developed our evaluation techniques over the last decade and the story that they tell about the positive impact of an Outward Bound experience on the lives of young people.

There is a huge amount in this report that “proves” the value of the work we do. We also know that nothing contained in this report ever quite matches the look on the face of a youngster on top of a mountain who has just realised that there is far more in her than she had ever previously imagined. It is when one puts the two together that Outward Bound really makes sense.

Executive Summary


The Outward Bound Trust provides courses for young people to develop their social and emotional skills at every stage of their education from the end of primary school through to university, and during the early stages of employment. The skills that they develop are those that will play a pivotal role in how successfully they navigate the challenges of adolescence and early adulthood: helping them to flourish and thrive in many different ways throughout their lives.

This is The Trust’s fourth Social Impact Report in which we demonstrate the various ways that Outward Bound courses help to reverse the decline in young people’s well-being; improve their engagement and performance in learning; and bridge the widening gap between the academic skills pupils develop at school and the broader set of skills that are needed for employment.

Read the whole report here!:


The unlonely planet: How Ashoka accelerates impact

Results of the 2018 Global Fellows Study


In today’s world of unprecedented change, where can we turn for answers about how to thrive and best contribute so we can ensure these changes are for the good of all? I have had the distinct privilege of an extraordinary array of answers to this question through our Ashoka Fellows. This historical moment has offered new technologies to eliminate barriers to participation and offers new ways of organizing.

I have learned from our social entrepreneurs that practicing empathy, skilled teamwork, offering new roles for others to be changemakers are signature qualities of a new leadership for our time. The following pages offer what we have learned from our largest survey of our Ashoka Fellows to date.

In 2018 more than 850 Ashoka Fellows from 74 countries took part in a Global Fellows Study designed to understand their impact as well as the role Ashoka has had in contributing to that impact. We believe this to be the largest global study of system change social entrepreneurs done to date.

The Data Set Represents a Diverse Group of Fellows In Various Sectors and Geographies

Of the 858 responses, 42% were women, 57%  were male and 1% identified as “other gender identity.”  This distribution is representative of Ashoka’s overall network. The respondents focus on a wide variety of population groups including people living in poverty (55%), women (48%) and people with disabilities (25%). The Fellow
respondents also represented a variety of business models, with 32% reporting that they received no revenue from selling products or services, and 12% reporting that they received all of their revenue from selling products or services.

Fellows Generate Systems Change that Sticks

Ashoka’s view of system change is emergent and context-dependent. It is open to a whole array of system elements as well as how they interact – including but not limited to public policy, industry norms, changes in market systems, building new professions, how different systems interact, etc. Ashoka learns with each social entrepreneurs’ journey not simply the issues relevant in each geography where that entrepreneur is working, but the how-tos of strategy as well as the skill required and support needed for building leadership for deep and lasting positive change.

Our metrics to measure systems change have evolved since we first conducted this study in 1998, and include: independent replication, public policy change, market change, and shifting mindsets. In the Global Fellows Study, we found that 90% of Fellows report having seen their idea replicated by independent groups or institutions, 93% reporting having changed markets and/or public policy, and 97% report that their strategy focuses on mindset shift.

Systems change often necessitates many different strategies targeting a diverse array of stakeholders, demonstrated by Fellows’ reported partnerships. 86% of Fellows report partnering with NGOs, 72% with Universities and 61% with for-profit companies. Ashoka is learning from Fellows’ partnerships with companies and leveraging their work to create a more equitable world where everyone is powerful and able to create positive change.

Read the whole study here: