Can your charity both prove and improve its impact?
While many charities struggle to report concrete outcomes and learn from them, others are proving to be inspiring case studies of just how this can be done. Eastside Primetimes chief executive Richard Litchfield explores the issue of Improving Impact and the examples we have identified for this edition of EP Insights.
Charities exist to make a difference, but tracking the difference they make and then using this to improve as organisations remains strikingly difficult. This has meant many charities still default to using raw outputs or financial data as proxies for how they are doing and where to allocate resources. However, there are some organisations which are strong examples of progress, using outcome and impact data to drive their performance.
In this edition we feature transport social enterprise HCT, who explained that by focusing on their “total impact” they’ve developed a new service called Travel Training, which goes beyond their own core bus services and helps young people with disabilities learn to travel independently. Missing People’s Susannah Drury has spoken to us about how they incorporated feedback to strengthen the targeting of the text messages they use to find missing people. And SASC’s Peter Morris has provided a social investor’s view, explaining what investors are looking for and what they are doing to help charities with impact.
While the subject of impact has been rising up the management agenda over the last decade thanks to New Philanthropy Capital and others (see our top 10 list of the best impact resources from across the social sector), there is a great variety of approaches to impact, which can be confusing for charity managers. Some measurement purists say that charities should be focusing on ‘improving not proving’ their impact (see Martin Brookes in a recent tweet-chain), measuring impact for internal purposes rather than for marketing and fundraising ones. We disagree. We think the two are important bedfellows and therefore present articles which feature both aspects, showing how charities can use impact data to up their game for beneficiaries, and then promote their case, raise funding and grow to become larger organisations.
The featured pieces share common themes and shine a light on how to use both qualitative and quantitative data. They each speak about the need for pragmatism and building from where you are now:
“We can risk counting too much and not being able to sort the wheat from the chaff. We used to try to look at 25 outcomes but have now simplified it” - Tracey Vickers, HCT
This briefing is intended to be very practical, exploring the challenges that are preventing more charities from adopting better measurement. Using the very best examples, and some pointers from our consultant Rosie Chadwick, we aim to help you understand how to tackle pinch points and make progress that you want to see in your organisations.