When I started at NPC I remember being told that our focus on measuring social impact was unrealistic and misguided. ‘There are some things you can’t measure—like happiness for instance’, people would say.
It turns out there are lots of ways of measuring pretty much anything and in ways that are robust and also practical. And since the goal of many charities is to improve well-being of the people they support, helping them quantify ‘soft outcomes’ like self-esteem or resilience can be of enormous value. So it was that on 2008 we began exploring what makes up subjective well-being, drawing on the work of economists, psychiatrists, academics, frontline charity workers and many others.
We chose to focus specifically on children and young people between the ages of 11 to 16 and shared the questionnaire that we developed in our Feelings count report. To make it more useful, we decided to put the survey online, and in 2011 NPC’s Well-being Measure (www.well-beingmeasure.com) was born.
Since then, more than 8,000 surveys have been completed, helping organisations like Outward Bound Trust and many others to understand their impact better. We adapted this tool for other groups, for example children with Special Educational Needs. And we shared insights from the data collected (in Measure what your treasure and That awkward age).
Closing the online platform
However, the technological platform has proved expensive to maintain and develop—and, in the end, unsustainable for a non-profit think tank and consultancy like NPC to oversee. After much consideration, we are now taking stock of the online platform and are actively seeking partners who might take it on and evolve it further.
In the next six months (up until Spring 2017) we will be talking to potential partners who may interested in making the most of the thinking and development that has gone into our Well-being Measure. These could be people or organisations from the social tech world, academics, funders, large children’s charities or even those who would be interested in adapting the measure for their audiences such as older people. The measurement tool itself will still be available in paper form, and anyone’s free to use it within their work, use existing survey tools to deploy it online, and build on it.
We have learnt much about measuring well-being of young people. We have also learnt some lessons about building tech products, but that’s the subject of another blog I’ve written.
We are grateful to our funders: Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Private Equity Foundation (now Impetus-PEF), and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation who helped us to develop the online version of the Well-being Measure. Thank you too, to all the great customers who bought into what we were trying to do and helped spread the word, and I hope all got significant value from it. We’ll keep you posted on what comes next.
Tris Lumley would love to hear from anyone interested in discussing this further at Tris.Lumley@thinkNPC.org.