We are working towards a world where high quality impact measurement is the norm in the non-profit sector. Our vision is that in 2022:
- The majority of charities and social enterprises routinely plan, measure, assess, and improve their work on the basis of their impact.
- The majority of funders seek to increase their impact by using impact data to allocate resources and improve practices.
- Evidence about effective interventions is widely available and regularly used to inform policy and practice.
- Effective interventions are widespread leading to significant and sustainable improvements to the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people.
These changes are due in large part to Inspiring Impact, which has influenced the practice of the majority of the UK non-profit sector.
The first part of Inspiring Impact focuses on the next three years. In year one, we laid the foundations for embedding an impact approach in the UK non-profit sector through six projects under our five themes, developing the key resources needed to move the programme forward. In years two and three, we expect to see a tangible impact on the sector.
Find out how we will achieve our vision by reading about our plan.
The charity sector changes millions of lives and tackles some of the most difficult problems in society. But it has the potential to do even more.
Focusing on impact—that is, the difference an organisation’s work makes to those it seeks to help—can help charities get better at what they do, and reach more people, more effectively. Inspiring Impact encourages and supports charities and social enterprises to measure their social impact, to measure to a high standard, and to learn from the findings so that they can improve.
Who is measuring impact?
Charities and social enterprises, and their funders and investors, are increasingly focused on ensuring they use their resources to make the greatest positive difference to society. This focus on social impact is not new, but the challenging economic context has driven it up the agenda, as government, funders, and social investors look to get the most for their limited resources.
A 2012 survey by NPC, Making an impact, examined the state of impact measurement across the UK charity sector. It showed that over 50% of charities are measuring impact for all or nearly all of their activities. But worryingly, almost 25% do not measure impact at all.
Graph 1: UK charities’ impact measurement practices (click to enlarge)
What are the benefits of impact measurement?
Charities measuring their impact see many benefits. The most commonly cited benefit, encouragingly, is improved services. Other benefits include improved ability to demonstrate results, better targeting of services, increased funding and improved strategy.
What are the barriers to measuring impact?
Charities see a number of challenges when it comes to measuring their impact. Most common is a lack of funding and resources, but close behind is a perceived lack of skills, not knowing what to measure, and not knowing how to measure. Inspiring Impact aims to overcome these barriers through our work across five themes, to make good impact measurement realistic and appealing for all charities.
Graph 3: Barriers to impact measurement according to UK charities (click to enlarge)
What would help charities improve impact measurement?
Charities cite a number of factors that would help them overcome the barriers to impact measurement. These include financial support, support to develop measurement tools, sharing knowledge with similar organisations, expert help, better knowledge of analysing data and off-the-shelf tools.
Graph 4: What would help UK charities to develop impact measurement? (Click to enlarge)
Find out more
Find out more about UK impact measurement practices in Making an impact, which is available to download for free as a pdf on NPC’s website.