First Advisor

Sheila Martin

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Urban Studies (M.U.S.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Sustainable development reporting, Community development -- United States -- Finance, Financial institutions -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, v, 164 pages)


Businesses, governments and communities are increasingly interested in measuring the non-financial impacts of their activities and investments. This assessment often takes the form of measurement models that utilize a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) framework, namely looking at the areas ofthe environment, the economy, and the social simultaneously. Despite its many accounting flaws, more and more organizations adopt this philosophy by applying it literally in the form of impact reports. In this framework, the social dimension is the most challenging to measure. Because of its complexities, this aspect of TBL reporting has often been vague and lack rigor.

The research question I am addressing is: what facilitates or inhibits the uptake and use of meaningful social bottom line reporting? From conducting case studies that include document analyses and in-depth open-ended interviews with key decision-makers of organizations in the Community Development Financial Institution industry (CDFI), I examined how and why these organizations effectively measure their social and community impact. Given that there are inherent flaws with the logic of the social dimension of Triple Bottom Line reporting but organizations nevertheless are using it, this study looked in-depth at Community Development Financial Institutions that utilize various measurement methods to assess their particular impact on the social dimension of communities. The struggles, experiences, processes and content of social bottom line reporting by CDFls revealed that their uptake and use is facilitated by being mission driven, having a compatible business model, and by demands from their stakeholders, funders, and regulation requirements. It is hindered by a lack of sufficient capacity, unclear social bottom line definitions, and a lack of embedded ness in their day to day operations.


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