What we do
All across the country, passionate people work incredibly hard to try to make life better for groups living in the margins of our society. Our work aims to increase the positive impact of their work.
We help these organisations to evaluate their impact. This means gathering information and feedback from a range of sources through interviews and surveys, and then using our knowledge and experience to provide useful, practical advice and insights.
Our clients are charities and organisations that are trying to make life better for people. We also work with businesses that share our values and have a social purpose beyond making money.
The value we bring
We help social purpose organisations to work out what they are doing well – and should do more of – and where they need to make change. This helps them to be more efficient and effective which, in turn, allows them to make a positive difference to more people’s lives.
We support organisations in the following practical ways:
- Help them work out which of their activities are making the most difference so they can prioritise;
- Deepen their understanding of the people they are helping, and their needs, so they can make their services more useful and relevant;
- Provide stories and case studies that help to communicate the good work they do, encouraging new supporters;
- Demonstrate the value of what they are doing, and the positive impact they are having on people’s lives, helping to win new sources of funding.
How we work
We work in partnership with social purpose organisations. We aim to be a critical friend, meaning we are on their side but are not afraid to ask tough questions and be challenging when we think that it will be helpful. We conduct our projects hand-in-hand with our clients so we can be certain that the information we collect is the information that they really need, presented in a way that will make the most sense and be the most useful. If you’re looking for a dry, academic evaluation, we are not the agency for you.
“Anna and Charlotte's approach to impact evaluation is thoughtful, incisive and thought provoking. The charity sector would be in a much better place if it listened more openly to the ideas and concepts they present.”
"I have found it so helpful that we are working with a long term evaluation partner. We understand our impact and we learn as we go, in terms of building quality into our work from start to finish. The constructive rigour and independent thinking of Cornish Grey is a brilliant offer for anyone who wants to be part of a learning organisation."
"Cornish and Grey gave us invaluable support at Pause, not least pulling the key data together to help us articulate our impact in a quick and simple way"
"We have worked with evaluation specialists before, but working with Anna brought some real light bulb moments. As a result of her recommendations, we have re-written our mission and aims and now have a clear, simple framework in place for evaluating and communicating our success in meeting them."
“I would highly recommend Anna and Charlotte. They took the time to really understand what support we needed and helped us show the impact of our project clearly and effectively. They have been extremely adaptable and flexible in the light of COVID and have almost become part of our team.”
Examples of our approach
Most of our reports and outputs are confidential. However, here are some examples of the blogs, guides and content we have written for our clients and partners
The impact of volunteering
If an organisation uses volunteers, it is just as important to gather feedback from them as it is to gather feedback from those recognised as the ‘service users’. Our evaluation work for Pilotlight, for example, has demonstrated that there are many similarities between the change experienced by those delivering the support (business leaders) and those receiving the support (charity leaders).
How does a capacity building organisation measure success?
The starting point for measuring success for a capacity building organisation is the same as it is for a frontline service organisation - understanding the difference it is trying to make. In this blog for Pilotlight, Anna summarises how tracking activity and gathering feedback from stakeholders has helped identify the set of indicators currently used to measure change for charities supported through the Pilotlight Programme.
Looking for Change in the Right Place
We have delivered annual workshops for Pilotlight’s business volunteers to build their understanding of measurement in the charity sector and improve their effectiveness in supporting the charities they are partnered with. Pilotlight project manager, Hannah, summarised the learning from one of these events in a subsequent blog.
Building an approach to self evaluation
In 2016, we wrote a guide for The Communication Trust on: ‘Building an approach to self evaluation’. This is aimed at small voluntary and community sector organisations delivering children’s speech, language and communication services and can be downloaded from the Trust’s new ‘developing and using evidence’ page
Good Science, Bad Governance
Anna’s extensive work with second tier membership organisations has given her particular insight into the challenges facing small and medium sized charities with measurement. In this guest blog for the Communication Trust she argues that a ‘good governance’ approach to evidence is more appropriate for small voluntary and community sector organisations than a ‘good science’ approach.
Take control of your impact
During training sessions, Pilotlight project managers often report to us that the charities they are supporting are reluctant to identify key outcome measures for fear that they will no longer match the requirements of a particular funder. Anna addresses this issue in a guest blog for Pilotlight.
The Language of Measurement
Pilotlight’s business volunteers often think social impact measurement is something specific to the third sector and beyond their skills set. Charities tend to think that market research has no relevance to them and their stakeholders since they are not in the business of ‘selling’. The reality is that social impact measurement, like market research, is a core part of the strategic planning process. We see our work with Pilotlight as helping the two sectors to speak the same language.
What is qualitative research and how should charities use it?
The value of qualitative research is often overlooked or misunderstood by the charity sector. Yet qualitative methods, which aim to provide a deeper understanding of the values, attitudes, motivations and behaviours of individuals and target groups, can be essential in helping to understand the impact of their services.
We share your values. Cornish & Grey is a social consultancy which means that we run our business in a way that aims to do good.
As we often work with charities, one of our driving principles is to be great value for money to ensure their hard-earned funds are being put to the best possible use. In fact, we turn work away when we think the proposed approach is impractical or disproportionate.
We regularly offer our services pro bono to very small charities where the funding structure is not yet in place to support them.
Who We Are
Anna has worked with a wide range of social purpose organisations, giving her a unique understanding of the complexities of tailoring evaluation programmes to the specific needs of her clients.
With a wealth of experience of qualitative research with vulnerable and hard to reach groups, she is particularly interested in participatory approaches to evaluation, using stakeholder feedback to learn and improve, and combining the collection of statistical data with other evidence to help organisations ‘tell their story’.
Charlotte is a quantitative researcher with a keen eye for the strategic insights that will make a difference to her clients.
Charlotte also has lived experience of leading organisations as MD, COO and Chair – she brings this to all of her client work endeavouring to make sure that all solutions and recommendations are practical, proportionate and actionable.
She always makes sure that clients meet their objectives – she gets things done!
Katherine is a communicator with a passion for helping organisations tell their stories in a way that cuts through with readers and wins them the reputation they deserve.
For the last seven years, she has been working as an independent sustainability consultant specialising in supporting multinational corporations on environmental, ethical and community issues. Her work focusses on helping them to devise or revise their sustainability strategies, and then working with them to communicate their approach.
Our Delivery Partners
Public engagement partner
In 2019, we started working with The Liminal Space - a unique consultancy that helps academic research deliver impact through the development of innovative and inspiring arts experiences to engage a wide range of audiences in its findings. The Liminal Space’s overall mission and culture sits very closely with ours and we are excited to be working on helping them develop and deliver a range of public engagement projects in 2020 for the Wellcome Foundation and Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust.
Insight and foresight partner
Charlotte worked alongside Trajectory’s Founders at the Henley Centre in the early 1990s and has worked alongside them ever since as colleague, partner and associate, now in the role of non-executive director of Trajectory. Cornish and Grey joint working with Trajectory increases our capacity for delivering large scale mixed method research and consultancy projects, and projects that demand consumer trend insights.
Qualitative research partners
Anna has worked with Michelle Lloyd since she founded the qualitative research agency, Solutions, in 2001 on a range of qualitative research projects for public sector clients. Charlotte now works with both Michelle and with Alison Benson (Indigo Research) as a quantitative research partner on a number of evaluation projects for public health clients including NHS England, Public Health England and NHS Professionals. See, for example, our joint report on assessing the feasibility of extending the NHS Health Check to include a dementia risk reduction component.