BITC asked NPC to help develop a framework to measure the social impact of its new Business Connector programme.
Business in the Community
Business in the Community (BITC) is a business-led charity committed to building resilient communities, diverse workplaces and a more sustainable future. BITC asked NPC to help develop a framework to measure the social impact of its new Business Connector programme.
Business Connectors are talented individuals seconded from business, trained by BITC and placed in local communities of greatest need. They encourage collaborations among a wide range of organisations and spend time with key people to better understand the issues facing their community.
Overall, the Business Connectors programme aims to change the culture of how business and communities work together to tackle social issues in their local neighbourhood. The target is to create a network of Business Connectors over five years, supporting over 200 local communities across England.
Capturing the impact of the Business Connectors programme is challenging. The goal is, as the name implies, to create and/or support inter-organisational relationships that address local issues. Of course, these differ by area and the ultimate impact of the programme rests on the extent to which these relationships bring benefits to these communities.
We took BITC through our approach, firstly conducting a literature review on the value of brokerage and of business engagement in communities. This informed the theory of change for the programme, which was developed in collaboration with BITC, the Big Lottery Fund, charities and businesses. For a programme that affects many organisations in different ways, it was important to measure a few priority outcomes well, and so the theory of change was absolutely central to deciding what these were. We then worked with BITC to identify indicators for these outcomes, which included the number of different types of connections made and their usefulness, as reported by local charities and other stakeholders.
After this, we developed a range of tools for data collection, which involved modifying the Business Connectors’ management information system, creating surveys for the organisations that provide and receive support, and giving guidance on selecting and developing case studies that illustrate the broader social impacts. We also trained BITC’s staff and Business Connectors in using these tools.
BITC say this approach has helped them to articulate the aims of the programme clearly, improve their training of new Business Connectors, increase the effectiveness of the programme and demonstrate to funders and stakeholders the difference it makes.
Lisa Cunningham, the Programme Director of Business Connectors, reports that developing and implementing the measurement framework has been ‘hugely beneficial to the programme’, adding that ‘we have benefitted from NPC’s expertise and experience.’ Andrew Morris, Deputy Director England of BIG Lottery Fund, a major funder of the programme, said: ‘These tools not only provide high quality and real-time data to BITC to help them manage their programme, but also allow Big Lottery as the funder to see and measure the impact of our funding in a clear, consistent and compelling way.’