Evaluating the impact and value of charity work is crucial to attracting further funding and helping to improve. Here are five top digital tools and resources to help charities prove they are making a difference.
The NCVO’s Road Ahead report earlier this year stressed the importance to charities of being able to effectively show the impact of their work. Measuring social impact is vital to transparency in the sector and to securing funding from trusts, government and the public alike. Effective evaluation also helps charities to assess their strengths and weaknesses and pinpoint areas to improve. “As the general public have increasing expectations of transparency and accountability, charities face more pressure to demonstrate they are trustworthy,” states this state of the sector report for the year. “A big part of this is about ensuring there is congruence between values and actions, being transparent about how money is spent and finding the best way of showing impact." Thankfully measuring impact has been made easier through a range of useful tools and guides created to help the sector. Here are some of the best tools and advice available to help charities show how important their work is.
This digital tool has been created to help charities measure how effectively their work is impacting on the happiness and well-being of the people they are helping. It has been created by the charity Happy City and backed with National Lottery Community Fund money. The tool works by offering service users a survey to complete covering their emotions, behaviour and sense of wellbeing. A dashboard has also been created to help charities analyse the results and spot where improvements to their work can be made. For small charities operating on a shoestrong budget, a free version has been made available offering access to the survey and wider results on the charity’s performance. A paid version for larger organisations looking for additional questions, the ability to combine data sets and analyse results for individual questions has also been created.
A coalition of six charity sector groups, including New Philanthropy Capital and NCVO have come together to offer a range of free online resources, peer learning networks and grant funding tools to help those in the charity and social enterprise sectors better understand the impact of their work. This includes free digital self-assessment tools to help charities “diagnose” their current impact measurement and find ways to improve, as well as offering recommendations about the best data to collect. ’How to’ guides on impact practice, a resource library to help charities find the right tools, systems, data and services to measure their impact are also available. The organisation’s website also offers case studies to help share evidence of what works among charities in terms of measuring their effectiveness.
Small and medium sized charities are the key audience for the free online evaluation tool Impactasaurus. This offers a range of questionnaires to select from that best suit each charity’s needs. Once completed the service generates a range of reports looking at either the organisation as a whole or the power of specific projects to change people’s lives. Filtering by type of intervention is also included. Among those to be supported by Impactasaurus’s digital tool are Cornwall Rural Community Charity, Sporting Force and Breathing Spaces.
As a member of Social Value International, a global network to promote social impact measurement, this organisation has a range of support and global expertise to draw from in helping charities assess the impact of their work. Support on offer includes a digital Social Value Library database of guidance, case studies and reports about evaluation. It also offers charities the chance to upload their own guidance to help the sector further. A free online Global Value Exchange platform is also available, helping charities to set up their own projects and start to monitor the social value of their work. Another is the Social Value Software Directory, which compiles a list of the main software platforms to help measure and manage social value.
Social investment organisation Big Society Capital looks to bring together the finance sector and charities to help fund and measure good causes. It stresses the importance of social impact in showing investors the value of the charity’s work and whether they will receive a good return on investment. It offers a range of digital impact resources, from case studies to reports and tests. It also offers a Outcomes Matrix, a free interactive tool to help charities plan and measure how their work is impacting on service users’ outcomes. It includes nine outcome areas for up to 15 beneficiary groups and can be tailored to each charities’ needs and work.