What are the benefits of shared measurement when assessing impact of third sector organisations? A recent New Philanthropy Capital report highlights how it can drive change and improvement.
Demonstrating impact is becoming increasingly crucial to the third sector. In recent years, some organisations have joined to reach a common understanding of what to measure and to develop systems to do so.
After a first report published in 2013, the New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) makes a new contribution on this subject. In a recent paper, NPC explores different approaches of shared measurement and identifies benefits, challenges and key factors to success. This is part of NPC’s work for Inspiring Impact, a UK project aiming to improve charities’ impact measurement.
What is shared measurement?
According to the NPC 2013 report, shared measurement approaches have severeal key features.
First of all, organisations must have a consensus on the shared outcomes their sector achieves and they agree to measure outcomes that are meaningful to all involved. That means that organisations understand how their sector works together to solve a particular problem, through mapping their impact network or theory of change.
In addition, they use the same tools and methods to measure impact. This makes possible to those organisations using the approach to compare their results to those of their peers.
What can third sector organisations achieve through shared measurement?
The new report outlines the main benefits of shared measurement. Firstly, standards of impact measurement are improved and it permits greater consistency and comparability and less duplication in reporting to funders, by saving time and resources as well. Furthermore, shared measurement brings a greater understanding of what works and makes possible to track beneficiaries through many services.
One of the main findings of the 2016 report is that data from shared measurement has been used operationally—to improve services— as well as strategically—to influence policy, fundraising and commissioning practice. As NPC’s Sarah Handley pointed out, it is of special interest for smaller organisations, since it can give them the capacity to demonstrate much more robust impact practice than would usually be possible.
Inspiring Impact: changing UK voluntary sector
Inspiring Impact aims to change the way the UK voluntary sector thinks about impact, and make high-quality impact measurement the norm for charities and social enterprises by 2022. For more information visit the project's website.