Across the world, non-profit organisations and their funders are increasingly asking for more data on “impact”. Funders want to see clearer evidence that their money is making a difference. Non-profits themselves also want to know if their programmes are working – and how they can further improve.
WHY IS IMPACT MANAGEMENT IMPORTANT?
MORE EFFECTIVE PROGRAMMES
Gives you data and insights so you can improve your programmes and strategy.
CLEARER SENSE OF SHARED PURPOSE
Provides feedback to staff and volunteers which can help motivate and build a shared sense of purpose.
Helps you to be more accountable to your clients and other stakeholders – and acts as a basis for involving them in discussions around how to further improve.
DEEPER RELATIONSHIP WITH FUNDERS
Helps you develop deeper partnerships with your funders where you can engage more meaningfully about how to continuously learn and improve.
Gives you data and stories to use for marketing to prospective partners, funders and clients.
WHAT DOES 'GOOD' LOOK LIKE FOR IMPACT MANAGEMENT?
FOUR KEY STAGES OF IMPACT MANAGEMENT
Designing your impact management process involves thinking through a set of basic questions for each of these stages.
The detailed answers to these questions will depend on context. In other words, there is not one particular indicator or data collection tool that every organisation should use. Similarly, the “impact framework” will also look different for every organisation and programme.
But a “good” approach to impact management means having a process in place that gives a clear, agreed and relevant answer to all of the questions above.
We prefer the term ‘impact management’ over ‘impact measurement’ as it encompasses much more than just collecting data: it is the whole process of reflecting, learning and improving.
There is no standard “best practice” for impact management in the non-profit sector – the right approach will always depend on context. That said, in most cases, experts tend to recommend designing your impact management process as an ongoing cycle of learning and improvement.
This cycle has several equally important stages:
Develop a framework (crucial for working out what to measure)
Identify indicators and data collection tools
Collect and analyse the data; and
Use the findings (i.e. for learning and performance management, as well as external reporting)