Since my last blog things have moved quickly: the Impact in Action project is now in full swing with 12 recruited groups preparing to undertake their first training session at the end of April. These Bexley impact pioneers will learn the skills to effectively measure and demonstrate the difference they make. The project rather fortunately coincides with the release of the House of Lords’ report: Strong Charities for a Stronger Society, which sites Impact as one component for achieving the aim of the report, amongst other very relevant areas (Karl Wilding’s blog is a really helpful guide to what the report means to the sector here on the NCVO website).
Impact and Engagement
The report uses some persuasive reasons to encourage charities to use impact for example; to benefit those it supports, improve transparency and ensure accountability. This view reinforces the concept of Impact being an integral part of charity strategy and culture rather than a standalone means-to-an-end i.e. for an annual report. A living, breathing impact strategy will embed beneficiary views in its plan to improve and provide the best service. At first, this may sound daunting but if we think of ways to engage and capture the voice of the people we support the distant aim seems a lot closer to achieving. Good Impact practice is about creating those opportunities for hearing, recording and acting on feedback. Using surveys/questionnaires, group exercises or case studies will provide you with a better of picture of how people feel, are they getting the most out of your service and crucially; are they able to reach their goals. Their feedback should be your guide to what you may need to change, to improve or to stop doing.
Accountability and Transparency
Accountability boils down to planning, monitoring and reviewing. as such, accountability should be integral to any charities impact strategy: when something goes wrong, how can we ensure it doesn't happen again? In terms of impact measurement; we want to know that negative feedback results in a response, this could be a change in how an activity is delivered or a review of the service's model. Being able to react and change to feedback is a skill but is critical to being better suited to the needs of your beneficiaries.
In terms of Transparency, we can use models such as a Theory of Change to demonstrate how you plan to deliver your service with the people you support's outcomes in mind. This model can be reviewed alongside your feedback to show what you learned and how you have adapted. This information can catch the eye of a potential funder who is looking for a dynamic charity that isn't afraid to adapt to meet needs and achieve results. Your transparency should, of course, highlight 'good news' stories and show your donors what their money has helped to achieve. Let the voice of your beneficiary’s flow through everything you do!
In an ideal world, Impact should be on everyone’s agenda. The report brings us back to reality: finding funding for training and support is difficult. This is one area we are fortunate following the City Bridge Trust funded Impact in Action project is a source of free training, support and resources that should not be missed.
We are providing the following training for Bexley groups in 2017:
The report doesn’t just focus on Impact but covers a wide range of areas such as Digital Technology and Governance. We have a full year of training planned here at BVSC that will help you to strengthen your organisation. Please check our Training page which you can now filter into different themes: https://bvsc.co.uk/events