Good Impact Practice: a basis for building and maintaining trust

James Magowan is the Inspiring Impact lead for ACF. Here he reflects on issues raised at the recent ACF conference—which had ‘Trust’ as its theme. He explains why he  sees good impact practice as a significant contributing factor in building and maintaining trust between charities and funders.

David Emerson (Chief Executive, ACF) in his opening address to the ACF conference set the tone of the event by posing two big questions:

  • How do we retain and strengthen trust, and overcome what threatens and erodes it?
  • How can we hold, harness and deploy trust?

Many speakers went on to present answers to these questions.

We should not just want more trust, but rather we should trust intelligently, looking for honesty, competence and reliability—was Onora O’Neill’s view. Drawing from her expertise as Reith Lecturer and Ted Talk presenter on the topic of Trust, she highlighted the need for evidence relating to honesty, competence and reliability to be expressed transparently and to be well communicated.

Questions and contributions from the audience identified challenges in building a two-way trusting relationship – including addressing perceived and actual power imbalances, and improving the credibility of evidence.  Some stressed that  funders and charities have a responsibility to demonstrate trustworthiness more widely (among the general public, and with the private and statutory sectors) and hence to build trust in the role of civil society.  And it was recognised that trustworthiness, like social capital, naturally erodes and must be constantly maintained.

Dawn Auswick, Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive, warned that, in a world where actions are ‘done to’ rather than ‘owned by’, institutional frameworks tend to focus on accountability and compliance, which implies scepticism and  mistrust.  She went on to suggest that ‘foundations need to question their leadership role in a creating a funding ecology rather than a bureaucracy’.

It is this point about accountability and compliance that is the reason impact practice is sometimes perceived as the antithesis of trust. That demonstrating your impact is about showing you’re definitely doing what you’re saying you’re doing. But I would argue  that good impact practice is not good impact practice unless it is founded on trust.

Good impact practice does not focus solely on the achievement of proven or anticipated change, rather it puts learning and improving at its heart.  The Funders’ Principles and Drivers of Good Impact Practice clearly state that any approach to impact measurement must be based on trust, honesty and integrity. It is essential that grantees are made to feel confident in articulating the difference they intend to make and the difference they actually make. They should feel comfortable communicating truthfully what works and why, and what doesn’t work and why not.

This enables both parties to responsibly invest their resources, learn from practice, and improve, thus both contributing to more effective social change.  Using the tool Measuring Up! is a useful starting point for both charities and funders to assess their impact practice and to establish an impact approach that empowers, informs, and improves the work they do.

Good impact practice helps both funders and grantees demonstrate their trustworthiness – that is to say, their honesty, competence and reliability.  In response to David’s questions – good impact practice is one way to help foundations retain, strengthen, harness and deploy trust, and overcome what threatens and erodes it.

Posted in | Comments Off on Good Impact Practice: a basis for building and maintaining trust

The power of peer support

by Patty Lozano-Casal, Evidence into Policy and Practice Manager at Evaluation Support Scotland

On my way to work recently I found myself reflecting on the idea of ‘peer support’. I remembered a personal anecdote that my colleague, Emma, shared with me. She told me about a time when she took her children to a playground and one of her daughters got frustrated because she couldn’t swing.  Emma, being a supportive mother told her child: ‘If you say the words “I can do it” it works like magic. Try it!’  With this in mind the child tried again, succeeding at the first attempt.  At a later date, Emma heard her daughter repeat her words to another child, ‘If you say the words “I can do it” it works like magic’.

Peer support doesn’t just happen when we are children. Humans, and some animals such as elephants, often offer and seek support. But why? According to a review of more than 1000 studies carried out by Nesta, peer support can help us feel more knowledgeable, confident and happy, and less isolated and alone. So I wonder, why do we carry on evaluating our work in isolation from our peers?

At Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) we believe in the power of peer support, which is why we work collaboratively with organisations, combining their expertise with ours to generate evaluation approaches they can own, develop and run with.

In fact, one of the many outcomes achieved by the Evaluation Exchange programme that ESS ran with Iriss in 2013 is that ‘participants actively expressed the benefits of peer support in helping them work through the challenges of self-evaluation.’ Iriss used this and other learning to produce the illustrated booklet, Supporting peer support: Thoughts for people wanting to set up, run or participate in a peer support group.

ESS and Iriss aren’t alone in this. For example, Inspiring Impact’s Code of Good Impact Practice highlights ‘involving others in your impact practice’ and ‘actively sharing impact plans, methods, findings and learning’ with peers and other stakeholders as key principles to follow when focusing on impact.

Inspiring Impact also encourages funders and commissioners to create and nurture a culture of peer support among grantees. Funders like the ALLIANCE’s Self-Management Fund lead by example and advise grantees to avoid reinventing the wheel by asking funders to put them in touch with other organisations doing similar work. Sharing learning about what works in impact measurement with peers can lead to developing, designing and implementing shared approaches to impact measurement.

ESS bought into the value of peer support a long time ago, and we now run learning sets and working groups to decipher key evaluation challenges. We know it works, so we are taking a peer support approach to delivering the Inspiring Impact Scotland programme too. For example, we are facilitating an Embedding Impact Practice group. This collection of nine third-sector organisations meet every couple of months to share learning about what works in embedding impact practice in organisations. Cassy Rutherford from The Robertson Trust and other group members plan to share the learning with other Inspiring Impact Champions at an event this summer 2016.

So, if like me and other Inspiring Impact partners you are interested in taking the a peer support approach to embedding impact practice and evaluation in your organisation, why not become an Impact Champion? The initiative was set up by Inspiring Impact out of an awareness that often organisations get stuck about where to start with impact measurement, and using the Inspiring Impact resources. Impact Champions can provide support with this by reaching out to their network and partner organisations to assist with good impact practice.

Or, if you work in Scotland, you may wish to join our informal Inspiring Impact Champions Network. Not sure? You can always just join the Inspiring Impact mailing list to keep updated of what your peers are doing—a simple way to get involved, and join the peer support wagon!

Posted in | Comments Off on The power of peer support

Taking our own advice—Embedding impact practice across our organisation

By Dr Cassy Rutherford

These are challenging times for the third sector, and it’s becoming increasingly important for us all—funders included—to be able to understand and evidence our impact.

The Robertson Trust is the largest independent grant-making trust in Scotland. We aim to improve the quality of life, and realise the potential, of people and communities in the country. Last year alone we gave more than £18.2 million to charities of different sizes, which have the potential to achieve positive change for those they support.

With more applications coming to us, it’s vital that we understand what impact we’re having and why. Without this information it’s hard for us to make informed decisions about where we should be targeting our investments to best support people and communities.

We’ve always recognised the importance of evidence-informed decision making and have done a lot of work around improving our monitoring and evaluation requirements for grant-holders. For example, we worked with a number of other funders and Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) to produce a piece on Harmonising Reporting in 2010.

Despite this, we know that we’ve not always made the best use of the monitoring reports that we receive. Some of our funding programmes are centred on working with organisations to gather evidence about what works, what doesn’t work, and why. However, our main grants programme does not currently have this focus.

Our Trustees agreed that we needed a more consistent approach to evaluation and impact measurement across the whole organisation.  After all, if we’re asking our grant-holders to understand the difference they make, it’s only right that we do the same. To support this they created a new post of Evidence and Learning Officer, which I took up.

My main role is to develop and implement new approaches for impact measurement across our different teams. I’m part of Inspiring Impact Scotland’s Embedding Impact Practice group, which is facilitated by ESS, a partner of Inspiring Impact. Being able to share successes and challenges with a network of peers has been invaluable—helping me to understand and develop this process better, both for The Trust and our grant-holders. We’ve already found some common challenges and hope that we’ll be able to share our learning more widely in order to help other organisations too.

Through this group I’ve been supported to use Inspiring Impact’s Measuring Up! tool, which has helped me to understand the gaps and weaknesses in our current practice. It has also highlighted some of the challenges we face; for example, how we can measure our impact indirectly through evidence from our funded projects.

We are in the process of developing a new strategy for the Trust. The current uncertainty this raises makes developing an evaluation plan a lot harder, but it also means it’s the perfect time to be having these discussions.

We know that it’s not always going to be an easy process but we’re looking forward to working through some of the challenges with continued support from Inspiring Impact partner ESS.

Posted in | Comments Off on Taking our own advice—Embedding impact practice across our organisation

Shared experience: Helping small organisations measure their impact

By Judith McComb

Sported is a free membership organisation that supports thousands of community groups and clubs across the UK that use the power of sport to change young lives.  

As part of the Inspiring Impact Northern Ireland  pilot, Sported helped 20 of its member groups to sign up to Inspiring Impact’s Code of Good Impact Practice, complete the Measuring Up! online self-assessment tool and develop an ‘Impact Practice Action Plan’ for their individual organisations.

To help other organisations who may be considering doing the same but are not sure how to approach the task, Judith McComb has shared Sported’s experience below.

95% of Sported’s Northern Ireland member groups are volunteer-led, with less than five paid members of staff. The concept of impact practice, along with the time and resources associated with measuring impact, therefore often appears daunting.

The support we offered to our member groups was an important way of facilitating their ability to measure impact. This included group sessions, one-to-one support to complete Measuring Up! with specific help  around action planning, and remote support via email and telephone.

With this level of assistance from Sported, the project has been hugely successful. All 20 of the pilot groups have pledged their support for the Code of Impact Practice and, to date, 14 have completed the Measuring Up! tool and are implementing their Action Plans.

Code of Good Impact Practice

Sported held an initial workshop with our 20 groups to explain the concept and key terms in the Code of Good Impact Practice  so participants could take their learning back to their committee and volunteers. Following this, we attended committee meetings for a number of the groups to ensure the language, definitions and concept of Impact Practice was fully understood.

Feedback from participating member groups was very positive, with all groups pledging their support to the Code of Good Impact Practice.

Measuring Up!

At Sported, we undertook the Measuring Up! assessment for ourselves and found it really useful for identifying areas of strength and where we needed to develop our impact practice. This first-hand experience was a valuable source of learning that we were able to share with our members.

In particular, we found that using the Guidance Notes and Add Notes features of the tool was important. The notes that are added become the basis for generating an ‘automatic action plan’ so it’s crucial to take time to think about this.  The guidance notes were vital for our groups as they provided definitions and direct links to additional resources and information.

To speed up the learning curve and try and reduce the conflict between time spent on planning versus delivering activities for young people, we also developed a glossary of key terms for the groups.

Through the self-assessment tool, our pilot groups were able to identify areas of impact practice where they had gaps and prioritise these areas of development. We helped the groups with the Plan section of Measuring Up! which took around an hour and a half. They were then able to complete the three remaining sections—Do, Assess, Review—by themselves, taking about thirty minutes on each section.

Overall, groups found the Measuring Up tool very practical and easy to use, although some found some of the detail difficult to engage with:

‘A lot of the measuring tool didn’t apply to us as it seemed more fitting for large organisations with full time staff. But we all found it very useful and it really opened up the eyes to non-committee members of what goes on in the background and the work and commitment that keeps us driving forward.’ —Northern Ireland Cross-Community Angling.

In their feedback, they suggested a ‘light tool’ could be designed for smaller voluntary groups, but they did recognise the benefits of completing the tool.

Impact Practice Action Planning

Upon completing Measuring Up! groups found the action plan—automatically generated from the notes they had added throughout—to be a really useful document. It enabled them to add activities and timeframes to their plan which they could quickly and easily share with Sported.

Using these, we were able to offer advice and signposting on a number of areas for each group. It also gave us the opportunity to recognise common areas of development across the groups which we capitalised on by holding workshops on theory of change, communications, and Sported’s own shared impact measurement tool, Sportworks.

The tailored and intense level of support offered by Sported to these groups has been a key factor in the completion of this pilot programme. We would strongly recommend this level of support for smaller, voluntary-led groups. We would also recommend collecting feedback about the experience and passing it on to the Inspiring Impact partnership group. It all helps refine the process, and is an important part of the wider ‘sharing’ aspect of the programme’s shared measurement vision.

Posted in | Comments Off on Shared experience: Helping small organisations measure their impact

Impact measurement: Fad or fact of life

By Dr James Magowan

Impact measurement has been a hardy perennial on the agenda of philanthropic conferences and events for a while. Recently, more attention has been focused on the role associations play in supporting foundation impact practice and how they think about their own impact as infrastructure organizations. Thus, it was no surprise that a session was devoted to this topic at the meeting of the Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE) in Warsaw in January.

I wrote this post to share my experience with the UK Association of Charitable Foundations’ Inspiring Impact program and the overall challenges presented by the topic. Being thrown into a different environment and asked to explain yourself forces one to reflect more critically on what one has done, why, and what one has learned from the experience. So, in that spirit, and as I did at the Warsaw meeting, I offer my thoughts and comments on what has been a lengthy and often complex process.

But first, a little background. As “impact” began to gain traction in the social sector a decade or so ago, interest in and activity around tools and techniques to measure it also began to grow. Indeed, it became something of a specialized area, the preserve of “impact nerds,” with a language all its own. Research conducted by NPC in 2012 revealed that funders play “a critical role in shaping behavior” with respect to impact measurement. At the same time, it was clear to ACF that there was more at stake than tools and techniques, and that consideration was needed around the art rather than the science of impact measurement, on the broader implications for how organizations operate, and on the relationship between funders and grantees. This prompted ACF’s engagement with NPC and organizations representing nonprofits, as well as those with evaluation expertise, leading to the development of an ambitious program, Inspiring Impact, that aims to make good impact practice the norm for charities and social enterprises by 2022.

As an association with a hugely diverse membership, some members were comfortable with the idea, while many perceived it as a distraction or a passing fad. Our first job, therefore, was to explore with members what this was about and what the implications for funders might be. A working group facilitated by a staff member articulated the fundamentals, worked to develop a shared understanding, and ultimately produced a set of impact principles and drivers. (Note, the original language already has changed, with the focus now more on impact practice.) Working with other partners was critical to ensure that we developed a common language and approach, not least of which was a shared definition of “impact.”
Two other factors informed the deliberations. First, foundations tend to look at impact practice through two lenses: their own impact practice, and the impact practice of the organizations they fund. Second, foundations noted the importance of not conflating impact practice with grant monitoring and reporting, recognizing that while one can contribute to the other, the distinction between their respective purposes and processes should be maintained.

Other partners worked simultaneously with their constituents to develop resources that are available on the Inspiring Impact website.

I am happy to report that the initiative not only has been successful in engaging funders in a fast-growing movement, it has also helped avoid a narrow systems/technical approach by constantly reminding all involved of the richness and diversity of trusts and foundations in terms of what they do and how they go about it. Furthermore, it has helped de-bunk myths about the complexity and resource requirements of impact measurement and ensured that flexibility and proportionality are underpinning principles of the practice. And it has reinforced the notion that impact practice requires the commitment of the whole organization.

As such, Inspiring Impact is more about a culture shift and organizational change — a slow deliberate process in the best of circumstances; it requires leadership, resources, and time. Associations can help point members in the right direction, and perhaps help them chart a path, but it is up to members themselves to decide how they develop their impact practice in a way that is appropriate to their own circumstances.

On reflection, then, if we can agree that impact assessment is not just a passing fad but a fact of life, then associations should be at the forefront of the movement, ensuring that funders’ perspectives are recognized and that the resources and tools required by members to develop their practice are relevant and accessible.

Dr. James Magowan has recently taken on the role of coordinating director with DAFNE (Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe) and continues to work part-time with the UK Association of Charitable Foundations.

This post originally appeared on Philanthropy News Digest’s PhilanTopic blog. PND and PhilanTopic are services of Foundation Center.

Posted in | Comments Off on Impact measurement: Fad or fact of life

To Northern Ireland and beyond!

My Irish mother would be very pleased with me: I think I’m falling in love with Northern Ireland. Not only does it have beautiful landscape, friendly people and an excellent Titanic exhibition, but it’s seriously thinking about what it can do to help young people find and keep a good job.

Over the past year we have worked with Inspiring Impact Northern Ireland to adapt and pilot our Journey to Employment (JET) Framework for a Northern Irish context. Issues of sectarianism and other community challenges are experienced differently in Northern Ireland, and the NEETS Forum and the DEL wanted a framework to reflect this.

So we now have our standard JET Framework, and a JET Framework for Northern Ireland. But for me, the real difference between the two frameworks has less to do with the outcomes and scales it contains, and more to do with the strength of ambition behind it.

It’s a truism that making things happen is easier in small countries: you know who all the important people are and you can get them in a room. Northern Ireland has a NEETS Forum made up of a good proportion of all the charities working with young people to get them into employment. This forum is able to lead, challenge and inspire the sector. We first presented to them about JET back in December 2013; they expected it to provide support with measurement, but they also thought further ahead to consider how it could help the sector work better together to really tackle unemployment.

The new Northern Irish version of the framework has been piloted with a range of organisations—from large ones like Barnardo’s to very local ones like Sandy Row Community Centre. Those who used it feel it offers a great way to become more strategic and rigorous about impact measurement. The NEETs Forum are now thinking about how they can create a more systemic approach to impact. Part of this is about encouraging organisations to use a shared measurement framework. But it could also include a great deal more than this—reflecting on where there are gaps in provision, how to encourage more collaboration and talk about the value of the sector.

NPC is hoping to continue our work with Inspiring Impact NI and the NEETS Forum as they enter this phase. We would like to bring in philanthropic funders and businesses so that the approach is joined up across the sector—because there is the potential here to make this about much more than just measuring impact.

Posted in | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on To Northern Ireland and beyond!

The practice of change

By now we are all familiar with the term ‘theory of change’—the idea that charities and social enterprises should have a theory behind their work. It’s no surprise then that the past decade has seen a huge increase in the number of organisations using this approach.

It is a tremendous tool for the sector, one that helps guide strategy and evaluation to see an overall improvement in impact. And yet, in the midst of this vogue for theories, are we focusing enough attention on the other side of the coin—the practice of change?

A solid theory will have little impact if not effectively implemented. So how do we put theories into practice? What guidance is there to help us change our organisations as a result of what we have learnt? How can we plan better interventions, and better ways of delivering them?

To answer these questions the Inspiring Impact coalition brought together a working group to discuss our challenges and ambitions in the practice of change. We were a diverse collection of people—representing behemoth to tiny organisations that work across a range of sectors including health, rights, and international development, and engage in activities from direct delivery of services to advocacy and everything in between.

At first glance it would appear our experiences had little in common. However, it soon became apparent that we grappled with the similar issue of how to make our impact strategy work in a very practical sense.

Our different organisations use theory of change in very different ways. London Youth has developed theories of change for each of its individual programmes, as well as having a core theory for the organisation as a whole. Safe Ground develops its planned impact with funders, sometimes before putting a bid in, to make sure it has an open and two-way conversation about the changes it wants to create and how. Citizens Advice has expanded its approach to look at how the organisation’s policy, campaigning activities, volunteer opportunities and education work all create social value, as well as the outcomes of advice itself.

At my organisation, Student Hubs, implementing our theory of change was largely a question of collecting the right data. We are lucky that our theory has been in place more or less since we were founded, seven years ago. However, collecting quantitative and qualitative data consistently across a network of five offices, ten universities, 25,000 students, six programmes and over 100 projects, turns out to be no small feat. And making sure this data collection doesn’t detract from our students’ experiences or tie up our staff in elaborate bureaucratic systems has been one of our biggest challenges.

For us, the practice of change has meant developing a fully automatic system that captures data at every stage of a student’s journey, so we can test which interventions make the greatest difference and track our impact over time and in different locations. Ultimately, we want to be able to better understand the social issue we address—student social action—and knowing how our activities impact it is the first step. You can read more about our experiences, and those of the other working group participants, in the ‘Putting “The Code” into Practice’ report.

The concept of a theory of change has been a revelation for the sector, but now it’s time to focus on the practice of change. To really tackle social issues we need change to happen within our organisations, as well as in society at large.

Posted in , | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The practice of change

We’ve come a long way

II toolsIn the summer of 2011, a group of people started planning to work together to help the UK social sector make progress on impact measurement. We were concerned about fragmentation in our approaches, and believed we would achieve more if we coordinated our efforts.

We envisaged a world in which charities and social enterprises would have a clear idea what good impact measurement practice looked like. In this world, organisations would be able to assess themselves against good practice, and identify the tools and resources they needed to make progress. And finally they’d compare their practice with others in their field to learn, and accelerate their progress.

NPC and Substance came together to organise and facilitate an impact ‘summit’ in September 2011, to see if we could establish a collective vision. Out of this summit came a report—thanks to the support of Joe Ludlow at Nesta. It identified five priority areas in which work was needed—on leadership and culture; shared measurement; data, tools and systems; funders, commissioners and investors; and impact measurement support. It also introduced the idea of a cycle of impact practice—how organisations plan, manage, measure, and review their social impact. Out of this report grew the Inspiring Impact programme.

Fast forward nearly three years, and I’m delighted that Inspiring Impact is today launching two important new elements of that original vision.

Measuring Up! is an online tool designed by the Charities Evaluation Services and developed by Substance. It helps organisations to work out how they’re doing against good impact practice. It’s built around the structure of the Code of Good Impact Practice, developed by NCVO through extensive consultation with the sector last year.

The tool is practical, accessible, and makes it easy for organisations to get to grips with the key elements of their impact practice. It’s had rave reviews in testing, and we can’t wait to see how it’s received now it’s available to all—for free.

The Inspiring Impact Hub is an online resource centre for everything you might need to improve your impact practice. If you need guidance on what a theory of change is, you’ll find it there. If you’re looking for software that can help you capture data in your everyday work, you’ll find it in the Hub. And if you’re looking for ways to measure a specific outcome, say well-being, you’ll find it there. Again, it’s all free for everyone to use, and free for tool and resource providers to feature their materials.

The Hub launches with over 200 tools, systems and resources catalogued and accessible to all. But that’s just the start—we want evaluators, tool providers, and others who have developed resources or are aware of other resources to upload them to the Hub. And users can review the tools they’ve used, so everyone gets the benefit of their experience.

Of course there are limits to what online resources on their own can do. We need the concerted efforts of a group of committed partners, and the enthusiasm of others, to embrace them and to help spread the word.

If grant-makers, social investors and commissioners who want social sector organisations to provide good impact data embed these resources in their practice, we’ll build critical mass as people start to explore, use and add to Inspiring Impact. And if those funders also supply their grantees and investees with the financial support needed to build capacity, the dial may really start to shift.

Through the coordination of the Association of Charitable Foundations, a group of funders has already started to get to grips with putting these resources into practice. Inspiring Impact programmes in Scotland (through Evaluation Support Scotland) and Northern Ireland (through Building Change Trust and CENI) are getting the message out far and wide. And NCVO and ACEVO are working with their members to help advance their impact practice.

Join us in building on these foundations—upload tools, share these resources, build them into your work. Together, we can raise the bar on impact practice in the social sector.

Posted in | Comments Off on We’ve come a long way

The journey to employment continues

It’s been quite a journey. Ever since we launched the first version of The Journey to EmploymenT (JET) framework in May last year, we’ve been inundated with interest from youth organisations using it to measure their impact.

The JET framework is part of NPC and Inspiring Impact’s work on shared measurement and looks specifically at shared outcomes in the youth employability sector. These outcomes include emotional capabilities, like self-esteem, grit and determination, as well as harder outcomes like qualifications and training, and of course finding and sustaining good quality employment.

Over the past year, we’ve been busy holding roundtables, talking to experts and piloting the framework with a range of organisations—Acknowledging Youths, Blackpool Council, Cambridge House, East London Business Alliance (ELBA), Fluency and vInspired. Today we launch an refreshed version, incorporating new outcomes and measures based on feedback from these different activities.

At NPC we know measuring impact can be tricky, but the response we’ve had to JET shows there’s a real appetite for better impact practice, and that the JET framework and guidance can help overcome some of the challenges. As Beatriz Dominguez, Children’s and Adults’ Services Manager at Cambridge House, explains: ‘Measuring and evaluating the impact of your work is by no means straightforward, but using JET has really helped.’

The flexibility of the framework is an aspect many have commented on. Sinead Mac Manus, founder and CEO of Fluency, one of the pilots, said the framework is ‘comprehensive and covered all, and more than, we had thought of. It’s modular, so we could pick and choose the elements most relevant to our work.’ Once organisations have developed a clear theory of change, they can identify their outcomes in JET and use the corresponding scales to measure their impact.

It doesn’t stop there; we want organisations to compare with and learn from others, and build the evidence base for what works. Some are already anticipating the effects. Rebecca Graham, Impact Co-ordinator at the large volunteering charity vInspired, said ‘the framework has minimised the effort we need to put in to get results, and I’m really looking forward to learning from what we find. Lots of organisations will be using the same measures as us, so we can begin to share our data with others and find out about what types of interventions are working.’

Now that the updated JET framework has been launched, we’d like to see more organisations taking it up so it can support the youth employability sector as a whole to improve measurement.

Access all you need on our website: the framework to enable you, The JET Pack to guide you, and case studies to inspire you. And please do get in touch on Twitter or via the LinkedIn page—we’ve got plans to make the JET framework available online, so organisations can pick their outcomes and administer surveys at the click of a few buttons. We want to know who you are, so we can keep you up to date!

Posted in | Comments Off on The journey to employment continues

Inspiring Impact launches in Northern Ireland

CENI Inspiring Impact 30Today (Wednesday 19 March 2014) saw the launch of the Inspiring Impact NI Programme – an ambitious NI wide initiative that aims to change the way voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations and their funders think about impact and to put impact practice at the heart of their work by 2022.

Held in the Mac, Belfast, the event was attended by over 60 delegates from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors; as well as government, funders, academics and impact practitioners.

Inspiring Impact NI believes the difference an organisation makes is what’s important and is providing the knowledge and support for Northern Ireland’s community, voluntary and social enterprise organisations to consider, plan, measure and demonstrate the difference they make and to use impact information for learning and continual improvement.

The programme for Northern Ireland is linked to the UK wide Inspiring Impact Programme which is a coalition of some leading third sector organisations across the UK.

The Building Change Trust, as the Northern Ireland partner on the UK board, has committed £500,000 matched by a further £188,000 from the Department for Social Development, to deliver an initial two year programme of work which will support VCSE organisations and their funders to better understand and embrace impact practice.

Building Change Trust Director, Julie Harrison said: ‘The Trust is delighted to have made a significant investment in this initiative, which is ultimately about enabling community and voluntary organisations in NI, and their funders, to make more of a difference to the people and places they serve.’

Roy McGivern, Department for Social Development commented:

‘The Department is pleased to support the Inspiring Impact initiative in Northern Ireland. Its successful delivery can enable us to meet one of the key commitments in the Concordat between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector to implement an outcome-focused approach to funding.

‘It is vital that we can demonstrate the value of investments made in voluntary and community sector activity and to embed this approach across the public sector.’

Community Evaluation NI (CENI) has been commissioned as the Trust’s strategic partner to support the development and delivery of the Programme.

Speaking at the launch, Brendan McDonnell, CENI Director and Aongus O’Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI Programme Leader, presented an overview of the Inspiring Impact NI Programme 2014-15.

In addition, products to support impact practice currently in development by partner organisations from Inspiring Impact UK were demonstrated. Gladys Swanton, CENI, presented ‘The Code of Good Impact Practice’ which defines and explains impact practice. Sam Matthews, CES UK explained ‘Measuring Up’ – an online tool to help organisations assess where they fit in terms of impact practice; and Tim Crabbe, Substance showcased an online  ‘Resource Finder’ designed to assist organisations find information on a wide range of impact tools currently available.

Speaking at the launch Aongus O’Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI Programme Leader said: ‘I am delighted to see the Inspiring Impact NI Programme being launched today – this has been the result of an extensive consultation exercise across the sector to identify how best to build on the work of Inspiring Impact UK and put it into practice in Northern Ireland.

‘Inspiring Impact NI aims to promote a holistic approach that is about supporting organisations and funders to plan for impact, learn from and use impact data to effect change.’

Posted in | Comments Off on Inspiring Impact launches in Northern Ireland