Impact Measurement is the difference you make through the work that you do. It involves planning what your organisation will do; collecting information about what you have done and the difference you have made; understanding and assessing that information; communicating it; and learning from it.
Measuring your impact can feel like a daunting task, especially if you are part of a small organisation. The impact resources, tools, and publications referenced in this article are designed to help you get started on a journey that will add real value to your organisation’s planning. Good impact measurement will also motivate your staff and volunteers – and, above all, it will ensure you listen to the people who benefit from your services.
The Code of Good Impact Practice gives a broad introduction to impact measurement. It sets out a ‘cycle of impact’ and a series of high-level principles to follow. Impact measurement is everyone’s responsibility; organisations that excel are able to engage ALL staff in the process of gathering information, reflecting, and planning for improvement; however in the first instance you may want to nominate a person from your Board or your staff teams to lead the project.
Before you start, download the jargon buster – when we talk about ‘outputs’ and ‘outcomes’, ‘baselines’ and ‘benchmarks’, the risk is we don’t all mean the same thing! The jargon buster is a great glossary of terms which will help everyone stay on the same page.
Why this matters
We have an opportunity in a small jurisdiction like Guernsey to collect data within the charity sector and share it to highlight what’s working well; where there’s unmet need; and where investment should be targeted. There’s a real benefit to moving beyond simply recording and reporting outputs and moving to an environment that fully involves service users in shaping services and helps the States understand value that the sector provides.
We have the potential to become an evidence-led sector – in other words, a sector where good quality evaluative data is central to decision making. This will help the sector improve its thinking, save money (and time), and communicate better.
NPC have set out the kind of approach to aim for in Towards an Evidence-led social sector.
Self Assess Your Organisation
If you would like to audit your own practice “Measuring Up” is a free, step-by-step self-assessment tool that allows you to review and improve your organisation’s impact practice – that is, the way you plan, evidence, communicate and learn from the difference that your work makes.
There are eight principles that define good practice throughout the cycle:
- Take responsibility for impact and encourage others to do so too.
- Focus on purpose.
- Involve others in your impact practice.
- Apply proportionate and appropriate methods and resources.
- Consider the full range of the difference you actually make.
- Be honest and open.
- Be willing to change and act on what you find.
- Actively share your impact plans, methods, findings and learning.
There are four main areas of activity that make up the impact practice:
Plan your impact. The NCVO planning triangle is the most simple way to design your ‘theory of change’ (which describes why the activity you undertake will result in the difference you want to see). If you want to find out more about creating a theory of change the OU have free online training on the DIY Toolkit
Creating a monitoring and evaluation framework
Once you have decided what you want to measure the next step is to create a framework. You will already have defined your outputs and outcomes and your framework will ensure you have clarity about the indicators of success. NCVO have some good examples of frameworks.
Collect your data
Managing your data
Make it local and make it count
There are a range of States of Guernsey Strategy Documents that set out the government’s intentions in relation to groups of people that your organisation works with. By familiarising yourself with them you’ll know how your organisation contributes to the bigger picture.
Within your organisation and beyond, share what you do, why you do it, and why you make a difference. It’s good practice to be accountable; more people will understand what you do, your staff will feel valued, and you may attract more supporters.
The communications page (coming soon) tells you more about how to engage with your stakeholders.