Talking about why we’re here

By Eibhlin Ni Ogain 29 June 2012

Every so often when I’m working, usually in the mid-afternoon slump after lunch, the thought passes through my mind: why am I here again? After dwelling on this for a moment I am reassured of my passion for using measurement to help charities and funders be more effective in helping people’s lives. That’s why I’m here, that’s why charities are here. It is all about the difference we make.

We all know in the sector that we’re here to make a positive impact—so why aren’t we better at communicating that impact to the audiences that matter? NPC’s report Talking about results which looked at charities impact reporting found that while 90% of charities were good at describing what they did, only 41% communicated the changes these activities had achieved in people’s lives.

This is a problem in the current climate where funders are asking more and more about what their money is achieving, government are talking about payment by results contracts and the public are increasingly interested in transparency and accountability. Charities are also missing out on an opportunity to report on the things that matter, demonstrate their value and place impact at the heart of what they do.

NPC has worked with a number of organisations to provide guidance on how and what charities should be communicating, to help improve the way charities talk about their results they are achieving. The Principles of good impact reporting and Principles into practice outline how charities should communicate impact and also give some case studies of organisations that report well. But there is a lot more to think about to get impact reporting right, for example, how to tailor it to different audiences and how to take a proportional approach, and report the right level of information for your organisation.