Building your measurement framework: NPC’s four pillar approach

Since publishing our four pillar approach we’ve since updated our guidance on using your theory of change to build a measurement and evaluation framework, based on everything we’ve learnt from working directly with charities and funders. Read our new guide, Understanding Impact, here.



At NPC we believe in impact measurement as a way for charities and funders to increase their effectiveness. We know it helps organisations improve what they do and deliver the best results for their beneficiaries.

Our four pillar approach provides clear and practical guidance on developing an impact measurement framework.

Building an effective measurement framework depends on a strong foundation. It requires buy-in from senior staff and trustees, the investment of time and money, and a culture that is committed to learning and improving—only then can our four pillar approach be applied. And of course the development and implementation of a measurement framework is not an end in itself: to see the benefits you need to use the findings to review and improve your practices.

While ours is not the only approach, we know through our experience that it works for a variety of sizes and types of charities and funders, and results in an efficient, understandable and useful end product.

Step one: Map your theory of change

A theory of change should be at the heart of your approach because it shows what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it, setting out the causal links between your activities and your end goal.

Step two: Prioritise what you measure

Your impact is likely to be diffuse, affecting different people in different ways. Prioritise the most important outcomes in your theory of change and focus on measuring those.

Step three: Choose your level of evidence

Choose an appropriate level of rigour of evidence that suits the needs of your stakeholders. This will depend on a combination of what is desired or needed and what is practical.

Step four: Select your sources and tools

You may be able to use existing data or tools, or you may need to develop your own. It is likely others will be measuring the same outcomes as you, so look at what already exists and assess its suitability.

The work NPC performed on developing a theory of change and measurement tools was hugely useful.

Nick Carey, Shaw Trust