E193 - Measuring Impact With Rosie McLeod
“…rather than the question of did this project have an impact, what has changed for people? Instead, a more useful question is often, are we delivering this in the right way, to the right people… based on what we know about this approach…”
- Rosie McLeod
In this episode we speak with Rosie McLeod, Associate Director of Data and Learning at NPC.
We speak about what measuring impact means for charities, some of the challenges posed to charities in doing it well, and what they can and should think about before they invest time and energy into measuring impact.
1. What is Impact
When it comes to measuring our charity’s impact, there is no one size fits all. What charities should do in terms of approaching evaluation is first look at what they already know about what works, and then think about the gaps in their knowledge. This might sound simple, but a big challenge is balancing resource and capacity with the ambition of finding answers tough and expansive questions. Working to your capability is key, and whether you’re looking for outcomes and impact data – there is a cost, and you need to think about whether your organisation should be paying it, whether that’s time or money.
Rosie talked about the need to draw on existing knowledge and experience and not to duplicate the efforts of others in your space. Assessing your charity’s contribution, can also mean seeing and advertising your place in the chain of services to deliver for your beneficiaries.
Charities also need to balance what they know and the received wisdom from how they’ve always done things with the evolving picture of their services and the impact of these. What worked 10 years ago might not work as well now, so there is of course a need to keep asking, measuring, learning and adjusting services.
Being conversant with systemic change and a keener interest in contribution rather than attribution is crucial for organisations wishing to remain relevant and useful for those they are seeking to support.
2. Theory of change
Rosie mentioned theory of change, and how charities should have their own framework for explaining what they want to understand and measuring their work. This proactive approach could be more efficient and attractive to would be funders as well as other key stakeholders.
3. Standardising data
There is a good case for standardising some of the measures we use across the sector. We have spoken before from the perspective of funders seeking a uniform way of identifying and prioritising needs. From a charity’s perspective, a clearer common understanding of issues and measures on certain areas could help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of how we explain what we do and the need.
4. Qualitative and Quantitative storytelling
We touched on story telling in this episode and how people make sense of the world through stories – understanding what is happing in real lives, the qualitative measure, and the scope and scale of the need through the quantitative measures.
Like a lot of things in life, a mix of methodologies keeps things engaging and interesting for everyone.
This episode of Charity Chat has been brought to you by our platinum sponsor Work for Good. Work for Good believes everyone should be able to turn the work they do into good. Through their fundraising platform, they offer charities a way to engage and work with small businesses, including founders, owners and sole traders who want to make an impact for charities through their sales. To find out more, please visit workforgood.co.uk.
We hope you enjoy this week’s episode
Related episodes that you may be interested in:
E189 - Theory of Change with James Noble
E179 - Refugee Crisis and Galvanising a Group Effort with Amber Bauer
E155 - The Value Of Working Creatively With Jeremy Forshew