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Starting out in impact measurement: Quick Wins and How To Tips

by Heidi Fisher 01/02/2017

Heidi Fisher is Stepping Out's Social Impact specialist Associate has just written a book on social impact (available via https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M3UFLYH) and it features more questions you can ask to start implementing impact measurement in your organisation. This is her first blog for us:

 

If you are like a lot of social enterprises you have been meaning to do some impact measurement for a while now – but you haven’t found time because there’s always something more urgent to do.   

In this blog I am going to share with you some quick ways you can implement impact measurement quickly.  

Then you can start to build evidence on the impact your organisation has – even if you are not collecting any data currently – and use this to help secure investment or additional income.

The easiest area to start with is your internal impact as an organisation.  

Think about the following as you should already have data and information on these:

  • How many local people do you employ?  
  • How many new jobs have you created in the last year?
  • Do you pay the living wage to all employees?
  • How many volunteers do you have 
  • How Many hours of volunteering did they do in the last year?
  • How much money/time have you invested in training staff?
  • Do you have social enterprises or charities in your supply chain?
  • How much did you spend with local suppliers?
  • Do you recycle and minimise your impact on the environment?
  • Do you purchase goods from sustainable or recycled sources?
  • Do you know the amount of CO2 emissions your organisation generates?

Once you have done this you can start to look at the impact you have on your clients/beneficiaries.

Usually organisations run several different projects or contracts concurrently, and the first thought is where do you start with looking at the impact of these?

From my experience it is best to prioritise impact measurement in the following ways:

  • Measure the impact of areas you want to expand or grow in future years
  • Areas where contracts are coming up for renewal
  • Piloted projects that you want to try and secure longer term contracts for
  • Areas that will enable you to secure investment

By doing this, rather than deciding to measure the impact of an area where you already have lots of data you align the work to your organisational priorities, and staff can see the purpose of the work.  

To make it manageable I would recommend looking at one contract/service area and collecting the following data:

  • 3 case studies – either with different starting points or different outcomes.
  • Surveys of current clients to ask what difference the service has made to them.  The easiest way to collect this data is to ask staff to get this information when they have contact with clients over the next month.
  • Telephone surveys with partners/other agencies to find out how the service has helped their clients and what difference it has made.
  • Feedback from staff and volunteers.

Often organisations spend a lot of time surveying clients about the quality of the service and finding if they liked various aspects of the service – but they never ask about the difference it has made.  

By taking this approach you will know the difference your services make.  

Many organisations I have worked with have found that the difference they make is not what they thought – for example, an organisation helping people back in to work thought their impact was getting people jobs but when they asked their clients it was improved family relationships.

In my next blog I will be talking about how you can use the data and evidence you are collecting to work out the potential savings to statutory agencies (using Social Return on Investment).

If you’d like more ideas I’ve recently written a book about Social Enterprise (available via https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M3UFLYH) and it features more questions you can ask to start implementing impact measurement in your organisation.  

 

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