Impact measurement—not just about the measuring

By Eibhlin Ni Ogain 17 August 2012

Impact measurement can often be viewed in narrow terms—simply monitoring and evaluating the change you hope to make. However, at NPC we see impact measurement as part of a wider process of how an organisation works, learns and improves. For us, impact measurement forms part of a cycle of what makes a charity effective. This puts impact at the heart of planning, reviewing and improving what you do.

What this means, however is that impact measurement requires not only the right skills and tools but also the right attitudes, environment and resources. To get impact measurement up and running, you need to think about what is driving the process—is it because your funders are asking for more information or is it because you want to revise what you do; do you have staff who see the benefits of measuring or do you need to convince them of the case?

Factors like these have a huge impact on whether an organisation is successfully measuring (and seeing benefits as a result).

Looking at how much these factors matter and answering these questions will be part of our survey report on impact measurement practices among charities in the UK. We will be answering questions on whether size matters, what influence funder practice has, what is stopping charities from doing more and crucially what the best way forward is.

The survey will give us a truly representative picture of what charities’ impact measurement looks like, whether they think it is a help or a hindrance and what benefits they see as a result. NPC often talk about the importance of having an evidence base for what you do. The results from this survey will give us the evidence to understand what is happening around impact measurement, and most importantly what needs to happen next.

We hope the results will move conversations around impact measurement to a whole new level. We now know what the sector does, thinks and wants: now it is time for action.

This and many other issues will be under discussion at the Annual Third Sector Impact Conference where we will also unveil the results from our survey for the first time.