It’s all about evidence!

By Eibhlin Ni Ogain 8 November 2013

Well, no, not really. There are many things to factor in when it comes to understanding whether an organisation is effective or not. We’ve blogged time and time again on the importance of having the culture and leadership necessary to make sure that any evidence you do collect is used to steer and improve what your organisation does.

Of course, good quality evidence plays a hugely important part in helping organisations understand if something—an intervention to reduce youth offending, for example—actually works or not. But the challenge we face in the charity sector is that efforts to produce this kind of evidence have been pretty fragmented. So, although many charities may be doing great things, we have no way of knowing exactly how life-changing these things are or how they stack up against the hundreds of different services, courses, interventions that are out there.

Evidence is key, yes, but getting a good evidence base involves many other components. Culture and leadership are good starting points, but we also need more consistent and collaborative approaches when it comes to building comprehensive and comparable evidence for a particular sector. Nick Hurd today becried the lack of evidence in the youth sector, pointing to the lack of a framework to demonstrate the value of youth services, which makes it “too easy” for government to cut youth services. NPC has spent much of the last year thinking about what such frameworks look like and how they should be developed. Our blueprint for shared measurement report outlined the key factors in building consensus and developing common metrics within a sector.

And we’ve been testing this approach in our shared measurement work for the youth employability sector—published in our Journey to Employment report earlier this year. Our ongoing work in this area has taught us that it’s much easier to talk about evidence and frameworks than it is to build a truly shared approach that will work for frontline organisations as well as for funders and government.

Ensuring that we build a sensible and meaningful shared approach for youth employability will help organisations to concentrate on measuring what matters, and will ultimately build the evidence base Nick Hurd so urgently desires.

Watch this space: we’ll soon be launching a set of practical guides and resources to help youth services navigate through the JET framework, so they can measure their impact and ultimately plug those evidence gaps. In the meantime, if you want to know more about our shared measurement work, please get in touch with Eibhlín Ní Ogain.