Greater emphasis on impact measurement for charities

We are increasingly seeing charities place a greater emphasis on measuring and demonstrating the impact of their charitable programmes to ensure that their resources are being effectively utilised. The funding environment seems to become more competitive each year, making this more important than ever.

Funders want and need to understand how their money will be used before releasing funds, and they are more likely to support a charity that can clearly articulate its impact than one that can’t.

So, if you are unsure, how should impact measurement be approached?

Define impact

This can mean different things to different organisations, so be clear on what this means for your charity. Impact can encompass various dimensions, such as social, environmental and economic outcomes.

Use metrics and indicators

Charities use specific metrics and indicators to measure impact, which can vary depending on the nature of the program. For example, metrics could include the number of people served, improvements in health or education outcomes or changes in behaviour.

Collect and analyse data

You will need to collect data to assess impact, using methods such as surveys, interviews and observation. This data should then be analysed to understand the extent to which the charity’s programs are achieving its intended goals.

Consider both the long-term and short-term

It is important to carefully think about both the long and short-term so that you focus not only on immediate outcomes, but also sustained changes over time.

Use qualitative and quantitative measures

Qualitative data provides insights into the experiences and perceptions of beneficiaries, while quantitative data offers numerical evidence of change.

Comparison and benchmarking

It may prove useful to compare your impact to benchmarks or standards to assess performance relative to other organisations or sector norms. This helps identify areas for improvement and best practices.

Reporting and communication

It is important, after taking the time to conduct an impact assessment, that the findings are then communicated clearly to all stakeholders, such as donors, beneficiaries and the general public. Open and transparent reporting helps to cement trust and accountability.

Be adaptive

To be truly useful impact measurement needs to inform decision-making and program improvement. Feedback from impact assessments should be used to adapt and refine your strategies over time. It is therefore important that management embrace impact management and that trustees are also fully involved in the process.

The next step

Effective impact measurement can enable a charity of any size to demonstrate accountability, learn from their experiences and maximise their positive contributions to society. If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact Allan Hickie on or your usual UHY adviser.

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