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Built with grit (not the snow kind)

Co-designed tools to support your impact management

By Sally Higham 12 March 2018

As I write there’s a snow blizzard outside my office window. It distracts me from thinking about my current work to raise social investment (oh, the excitement and pain!). It distracts me from the vast amounts of information my social tech organisation needs to provide, not only to prove our business model, but also to show that we understand our social impact.

I bring this experience to my role as Chair for the Impact Management Programme—a collaboration to help charities and social enterprises increase their social impact and diversify their income. I know first-hand that charities and social enterprises like mine need real support with their impact management.

Although I have stacks of governance experience and I’m on all sorts of large governing boards, I knew this programme was going to be challenging. I was right. But it’s fantastic that all these individuals and organisations involved in the programme have pulled together as a team. Collectively we have been able to access quite a bit of ‘real’ experience to inform the design and delivery of the programme, making us well-placed to offer a range of support to those that need it.

So far we’ve given 26 grants for organisations to work with an impact practice provider on progressing and improving their impact management planning, data and culture.

As the programme has developed, I have been pleased to see that funders and contractors have been thoughtful, diligent and have overcome some tough barriers themselves in some cases. People have come and gone within the programme and I know there has been a fair bit of hair-pulling (self-delivered I might add, but I can assure you this is completely normal in the tech world).

Although they have the luxury of having the funding, the programme’s funders and partners have felt the shared pain of overcoming hurdles to achieve programme objectives. In this sector we have to take public spending seriously, and I have been truly pleased to witness funders’ and partners’ own sincere commitment to getting this right.

This team effort has resulted in us launching today something quite unique in the sector: a co-designed online platform to help organisations with impact management.

Building this platform was not easy either. But do you know what? I’m glad it wasn’t. Because charities and social enterprises work hard to grow and develop their services for their users. Developing online support that really responds to what charities and social enterprises need help with shouldn’t be an easy task. It was a chance for us to practice what we preach, and we are grateful to the more than 100 charities and social enterprises who were part of the co-design process.

The practical tools and guidance are dead easy to use for anyone in a charity, social enterprise, social business or voluntary organisation. Get started wih a look at the three main sections—Planning, Data and Culture. Or spend five minutes taking our data diagnostic to find out what sort of data you should collect and how you can understand and use your data.

We hope that when you use the site, it doesn’t feel like a cold, hard, tech product—but something that has been collaboratively built with real insight, experience and grit from across the voluntary, public and private sectors.

It might just help you to improve your services for users and swing that latest funding round…

The Impact Management Programme is a collaboration between Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, Power to Change, NPC, NCVO, Impetus-PEF, Social Investment Business, Social Value UK and Social Enterprise UK.