As we all wait to hear what the Comprehensive Spending Review says next week, one thing I’m certain of is that there will be more calls for value for money within public funding. And as charities negotiate funding over the next few years or so, there will be more questions about whether or not they can prove their value. Obviously at NPC, we think being able to prove your value is a good thing—it shows you’re measuring results and know what your charity achieves. And there are many charities who can already do this, as we discuss in our recent publication Proving your worth to Whitehall.
But the responsibility to do this cannot lie entirely with charities. If statutory funders feel that they’ve got a responsibility to spend money on things wisely, then haven’t they also got a responsibility to spend money on the measurement that lies behind that?
I was speaking last week to a charity that wanted to do an Social Return on Investment (SROI). ‘Great news’ said his funder from local authority, ‘and if it can just also measure the value you add in so-and-so, then that would really help us when we’re comparing the different options.’ Yet the local authority wasn’t willing to fund the SROI. But since the local authority is the body with the responsibility to the tax-payer to prove value for money, shouldn’t it be funding the research that discovers which options offer the most value? If local authorities find there’s no information on what charitable interventions offer the best value when they need it, they don’t have to go far to find someone to blame.