What’s Going On With Impact Measurement in the Non-Profit Sector?

Measuring tapeThat’s exactly what the UK based New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) was interested in finding out when they surveyed 1,000 charities in a recently released research project: Making an Impact. Released October 16, this 73 page document outlines the pleasant surprises and troubling challenges that face non-profits that are trying to demonstrate their impact.

The study examines the roles of charities, funders, and government and the changes that need to happen within each group to improve the overall practice of impact measurement. While this research was conducted in the UK, many of the trends are taking place in Canada too.

What Are The Findings?

There were promising results from the 1,000 charities NPC spoke with. While most charities were measuring impact to meet the requirements of funders, the number one benefit of evaluation for charities was realizing an improvement in their services. NPC also discovered that:

  • 75% of charities measure the impact of some or all of their work;
  • 52% of charities have increased measurement efforts to meet funders’ requirements;
  • 22% increased measurement efforts because of board or organizational prioritization on measuring impact.

But it’s not all good news. Smaller charities are less likely to measure impact than larger charities, and 25% of all charities don’t conduct impact measurements at all.

NPC also learned that there’s a disconnect between funders and charities, that funders have specific reporting requirements for their grantees, but the requirements don’t always align with the information needs of the funded charities.

How Is Demonstrating Value Making A Difference?

It’s this last point that Demonstrating Value aims to change for social enterprises. At Vancity Community Foundation, Demonstrating Value is the reporting tool used for the Social Enterprise Portfolio program. Over the course of the one year granting cycle, Portfolio grantees complete a performance snapshot that speaks to the indicators and outcomes they have identified in their application to the Portfolio. When they report back, they develop their capacity to collect and analyze information they can use to improve the management of their social enterprise. 

Remember: The Demonstrating Value tools were created to measure and evaluate impact. While they were designed with social enterprises in mind, they can be used by other organizations as well. NGOs, microbusinesses and any other organizations looking for an effective way to understand and communicate impact should take the first step and download and become familiar with the Demonstrating Value workbook today.

blog type: 
Issues & Ideas