When you get to an anniversary it is commonplace that you look back a bit and try to understand what you have achieved.
I think everyone who has been associated with NPC—not only as staff, trustees clients and funders, but all who have contributed to our thinking and engagement—should be proud that over our first 15 years we have helped and cajoled the sector to embrace impact and its assessment as a key measure of success.
Not everything has gone according to plan. We are a rather different animal doing rather different things than our founders first thought of. But we have kept to the core belief that this vital sector can achieve more social impact if it focuses on that aim. Mission and passion are crucial—but allied with analysis and rigour, so much more can be secured.
However, this history of achievement is no cause for rest, but is our platform to continue to challenge. Times do not stand still, and nor can we.
Our mission has been to offer valuable and previously unavailable thinking, guidance and tools helping funders and charities to achieve the very most with their limited resources. Our reputation for rigour and knowledge, and our credibility as an independent critical friend of the sector, means we can properly champion achievement as well as call out bad practice when we uncover it.
As we look ahead to the next 15 years, we will need to argue that, for the most ambitious in the sector, it will no longer be enough to fund or deliver piecemeal reform or offer services that only meet need. They will demand system change and innovation, often working in new partnerships with a greater focus on early intervention and prevention. We are already working a lot in these areas and are uniquely placed to help forge these transformational alliances given our focus on impact above all else.
Part of this shift will be about an even better understanding and application of data and a more advanced measurement of impact, often in cooperation with others rather than just working alone. It will also involve innovation, not least in the use of digital.
But this is not our only task. Many charities and charitable funders who wish to continue to pursue more traditional pathways will nevertheless need to improve their impact and measurement to meet growing needs in the most cost effective ways. NPC must continue to push impact higher up the agenda and embed it across the sector. We will keep designing state-of-the-art tools and approaches to help with data analysis and to achieve social change. And we will match this with a new focus on user voice and on place based approaches.
None of this will happen without strong leadership, good governance and a supportive environment. So as we go forward NPC will also argue for changes to charity law and practice to promote more focus on impact; ensure charities and funders are not shut out of helping our public services; support leaders and trustees to be more ambitious, embracing digital, data, new forms of finance and a more balanced attitude to risk.
Above all, we will help identify, highlight and support exceptional leaders who have the potential to drive the change that is needed, and encourage them to act as beacons and to champion peer learning.