Inspiring ImpactToday Inspiring Impact goes live, with the announcement of our year one projects and the launch of our new website. This is a truly collaborative venture, bringing together eight leading organisations from across the UK: ACF, ACEVO, Building Change Trust, Charities Evaluation Services, Evaluation Support Scotland, NCVO, NPC, and Substance. But we also want the input of the whole sector to make sure the programme is really useful for charities, social enterprises and funders.

Why do we need Inspiring Impact?

Impact measurement assesses how an organisation achieves positive change, allowing them to prove what they accomplish, learn from mistakes, and improve their services. Given the economic challenges facing society, and the pressure this places on the non-profit sector, understanding and improving our impact has never been more important.

In the past decade, impact measurement practice has evolved substantially, and there has been real progress. But there are still a lot of challenges – a huge range of methods, little consensus as to which are the best or how results can be compared, huge variations on the quality of the data collected, the cost of measurement, or the lack of incentives. These are structural, sector-wide problems with impact measurement, which need sector-wide solutions – which is where we hope Inspiring Impact will help.

What will Inspiring Impact do?

Inspiring Impact is about addressing the structural issues preventing impact measurement from playing the role it could in the non-profit sector. It will do this in two ways: by cultivating incentives to measure, making the case for an impact approach to non-profit leaders, and supporting funders to focus on impact in their funding decisions; and by making it cheaper and easier for charities and social enterprises to measure social impact.

It is an ambitious programme, with five themes and objectives, which you can read about in more detail here.

What do we hope to achieve?

So what does this mean for your organisation? Our main aim is that in 3 years time, impact measurement is easier, cheaper and more useful for a typical charity or social enterprise.

Imagine a charity that has done relatively little to measure its impact. Our hope is that by 2015 the chief exec will be clear about the business case for investing in an impact approach. They will know what good impact practice looks like for their organisation, and their staff will have the right knowledge to assess their impact practices and develop a plan to improve, and identify the right tools to use. The tools available will use standard indicators for their sector, so organisations can compare their impact with their peers and learn which interventions seem to be working best. All this means that in time, effective interventions spread and services for vulnerable people improve.

It’s an ambitious plan, but we think it’s achievable if it is shaped by, and works for, the sector. This brings me on to the final, and most important point: to make sure the work we’re doing is useful for the sector, we need input from as many charities, social enterprises, funders and measurement experts as possible. We’d love to hear your views and ideas, and there are several ways you can get involved.