The importance impact measurement now plays for many social enterprises and charities in the UK has been highlighted by The Social Impact Survey, from Buzzacott, Matter&Co and The Good Economy Partnership, published its results today (Monday 14th November), at The Good Deals Conference in Birmingham.
81% of respondents believe impact measurement is crucial or important to improve their business and the services they provide to achieve greater impact, with two thirds (67%) of organisations having used impact measurement tools such as Social Return on Investment, NPC’s Four Pillar approach and PQASSO.
The Social Impact Survey, supported by The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, offers a picture of the types of impact practice and issues that are present within the sector, and the results provide a good basis for reflection and discussion. Whilst half of the charities and social enterprises demonstrated a positive attitude towards their own knowledge of impact measurement, concerns remained over both the proliferation of impact measurement tools available and the need for this data to be given greater precedence by funders when awarding grants. The majority (85%) found impact measurement to be challenging but worthwhile, however 11% of respondents found it too complex and difficult.
Key recommendations from the survey findings are:
· Make impact measurement useful by ensuring the expectations and approaches are proportional to the organisation
· Make language user-friendly: efforts need to be made to simplify the language used so impact management and measurement becomes seen as a normal part of managing a good social enterprise business or charity
· Support capacity-building of frontline organisations: funders should be open to funding the resources needed for impact measurement and management to help build strong and sustainable, high impact organisations
· Focus on information that will guide management such as gathering improved client feedback
· Build peer learning and bottom-up collaboration: collaboration between similar organisations could be a user-friendly way to build standards, indicators and benchmarks based on real-life experience.
Key themes emerged from the survey, including a need for greater consistency, simplicity and less jargon around impact measurement.
Eddie Finch, Charity Partner, Buzzacott said: “The survey results, which will be discussed publicly for the first time at the Good Deals conference today, show progress has been made in impact measurement within the charity and social enterprise sector, compared with trends identified four years ago. However, the results suggest a need to respond to the experiences of frontline organisations. Key themes emerged from the survey, including a need for greater consistency, simplicity and less jargon around impact measurement.”
Sarah Foster, CEO of The Good Economy Partnership: “Impact measurement is just one part of the process of managing an organisation to maximise impact. The survey results demonstrate the need to ensure impact measurement approaches are grounded in operational realities and maintain a focus on the people organisations aim to serve – so there is greater ‘downward accountability’ as well as ‘upward accountability’ to donors and investors.”
Caroline Mason, Chief Executive of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation comments, “As a grant funder and social investor, we want the focus of understanding impact to be improvement: helping organisations to make more of a difference for people in the UK. We supported this survey to increase understanding of the current challenges and rewards of today’s impact measurement practices, in the hope that we can make it better.”