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How can we measure whether we’re achieving our mission and purpose?

Do you know what impact you’re trying to have and how this delivers on your purpose? How are you measuring and demonstrating this impact? Do your teams understand the impact? Are they aligned and driving it together? The team at Clarasys writes about the importance of measuring impact.

A narrated version of this blog is available at the bottom of the page

Charities are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate the difference they’re making. Donors are eager for the data that will tell them their investment is changing lives. Beneficiaries want to have confidence and trust in the charity they’re letting into their lives. Staff and volunteers want to know that their effort and time are making a difference.

It’s not an easy task to demonstrate impact as it’s not easy to measure. Commercial companies usually have it easier, as money is the driver. Charities are driven by making a difference to our planet and society, and few have really cracked how to measure impact. Impact in the context of the charity sector is not always clearly defined. Instead of there being a set of third sector industry-standard metrics, these are bespoke for each charity, and the data required doesn’t always exist.

As a consequence, demonstrating impact becomes the exception rather than the norm in the third sector, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. After all, if you are unable to show the tangible benefit it has – the additional number of pandas saved or the increased number of beneficiaries who have been provided medical care – it is difficult for your donors to understand what the impact their money is having.

Where charities think they have their impact sussed, we often see signs to the contrary:

  • Teams work in silos with lack of shared objectives and unaware of what else goes on in the organisation / how they contribute to the charity’s impact, mission and purpose
  • Departmental passion projects take priority and become the marker for success
  • Decisions made by gut feel or majority rule rather than data
  • Charities trying to do too much at the same time with resource and capacity being stretched across a number of projects

To help you start understanding your impact, there are some key questions which will help:

What Impact are you trying to have?

It is important to be crystal clear about the impact you’re trying to have and how this links to your purpose and mission statement – so your supporters/ donors/volunteers understand how they contribute to the overall impact on society.

What data do you need to measure this impact?

Once you are clear on your impact, you need to identify the measures which will demonstrate this, in which a set of organisational KPIs must be defined to measure your performance. You are then able to identify the critical data elements that constitute the KPIs and, therefore, need to be measured.

How are you going to collect and analyse this data?

To effectively collect and analyse the right data, you will need to have the right processes and technology to enable the right data to be captured, stored and accessed. Additionally, your people need to have the right skills and capability to collect and handle the data in the correct way.

How are you going to use and share this data?

Once collected, this data should be accessible and relevant to your audiences, so it is not too technical and is translated into language that is meaningful. Leadership should be able to easily understand how the organisation is performing, enabling them to make data-driven strategic decisions, which help them turn the dials on their desired impact. Operationally, your teams should be equipped with this data to be empowered to make changes.

How will measuring impact help your organisation?

  • Proving you are doing the right work to solve the problem you’re tackling. Making sure that your work is actually helping achieve the mission and purpose
  • Maintain and engage funding. Improving relationships and sustainability of funding streams, answer challenging questions robustly.
  • Improve experience for beneficiaries. Beneficiaries trust that you can offer them the best support.
  • Support your people. Staff and volunteers feel valued and that they are making a difference, and know that you’re all working towards the same goal.
  • Single source of truth. No more mixed messages or conflicting data, alignment across the organisation.
  • Informed data-driven decisions. You don’t need to collect all the data, but that if you collect the right data, the work will be driven by the right things.

Sign up for the webinar on 7 July from 2pm to hear more from Clarasys and the CEO of Legs4Africa about their journey to building and measuring impact.

Narrated by a member of the ACEVO staff

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