Helping frontline organisations
We help frontline service or campaign delivery organisations become more effective by developing a simple and practical measurement strategy. We believe there are four key elements to successful measurement:
1. Know who it is you are helping
The first step in measuring the difference you make is knowing who your beneficiaries are. We understand that monitoring the number and type of beneficiaries you support is less straightforward than it sounds. We provide advice on collecting demographic and circumstantial data and baseline measures of need. This information provides detail about the extent and nature of the disadvantage your beneficiaries face. This is useful for describing the need for your organisation to funders in the first place and for understanding how your intervention is working and how it could be improved (eg. by identifying gaps in reach).
2. Demonstrate the difference you make in the short term
We help social purpose organisations identify and measure short term outcomes that demonstrate progress towards their long term objectives. It is rarely possible to design an evaluation against long term outcomes within a funder’s time frame. In the real world, long term benefits mostly occur a long time, even years, after the end of an intervention. This poses real practical problems for measuring success (eg. getting in touch with beneficiaries who have long since moved on and meeting the timescale for funder’s reporting requirements). Furthermore, and critically, it is almost always the case that long term success is dependent on a wide variety of factors beyond the charity’s control. A charity can spend a lot of time and money on an evaluation of long term outcomes for which they are unable to demonstrate/claim direct impact. Therefore we concentrate on helping charities measure their short term outcomes and then we help them explain how these short term outcomes link to their longer term objectives.
3. Explain the difference you make in the long term
We help charities illustrate how their activities make a difference in the longer term by summarising the existing academic evidence that demonstrates that their short term measurable outcomes lead to the desired longer term outcomes. This is achieved through the development of a ‘theory of change’ or ‘outcomes chain’. For example, if a sports charity can demonstrate that it has increased level of activity among its service users (ie, it has achieved its short term outcomes) it can then draw on the wealth of academic evidence that shows that increased activity leads to improved health and well being (ie, the charity’s long term outcomes). Similarly, if a charity supporting elderly people can demonstrate that it is enabling the timely discharge of patients from hospital (ie, it has achieved its short term outcomes), again it can draw on the wealth of academic evidence that shows that elderly people show improved health and well being in their own home (ie, the charity’s long term outcomes) There is no need to attempt to measure these long term outcomes again or re-invent the wheel. It is much better to rely on independent academic research to support your assertion.
4. Listen to your stakeholders
We encourage charities to see measurement as an organisational learning tool as well as a communications tool. In our experience, charities that approach evaluation with a desire to develop and improve their services are not only able to improve their efficiency and effectiveness as a result, but are able to achieve high quality data that strengthens their communication with funders and other stakeholders. We use our backgrounds in market research to gather feedback from your stakeholders – funders, donors, partners, staff, volunteers as well as beneficiaries – and use this evidence to: identify concrete, measurable, short term outcomes; unpick your keys to success; make recommendations for improving your services; and support your communication with funders.