Measuring large

By Guest contributor 2 May 2013

Beth Green is an Assistant Director at The Children’s Society, which is a leading English children’s charity committed to making childhood better for children, through fighting poverty and neglect. Beth carried out research into the impact measurement practices of large charities as part of her Clore Fellowship programme. 


In today’s climate measuring impact is increasingly seen to be an integral component of an effective charity.  Working in the sector for a large organization I regularly hear front-line staff claim that they want to know if the work they are doing is genuinely improving the lives of their clients. Similarly, I hear requests from senior managers for IM data that will enable them to effectively allocate the charity’s limited resources.

So I feel there is a desire to measure impact at all levels within my organization but the question is: How effectively are we doing this?

NPC’s Making an Impact report, launched in October, stated that large charities – compared to their medium counterparts  – were performing less effectively when it came to impact measurement practices.  This intrigued me. How could large charities with their will to measure impact as well as their greater resources be struggling more than their smaller counterparts?

Today I am launching a report which looks into the impact measurement practices of large charities. The research, which was supervised by NPC, examines the measurement practices of eight large charities who have made recent changes to their impact measurement approach.  The study takes a dual perspective by eliciting views from both front-line staff and senior management.   It identifies why some of the features, that are more prevalent in larger charities, can act as challenges to measuring impact. These include having more diverse services, larger funding mixes, wider geographical spread , higher numbers of staff and volunteers and  more established cultures.   The report is solution-focused  and identifies enablers which can help bridge these challenges. It also highlights the added benefits of measuring impact which are particular to large charities.  I hope the research can be used by large charities who wish to identify some practical steps to making impact measurement an achievable reality.

To download the report for free, please visit this page.