Charities are mission-driven by definition: delivering on their charitable objectives is embedded into their DNA. We all know that charities do incredible game changing work. However, how much of this impact created is actually captured and, beyond that, communicated to the target existing and potential audiences? And how can impact be maximised through building win-win strategic partnerships between charities and other partners.
Starting with a brief look at the how-to for measuring impact, this article then moves onto responding to the other two impact-related questions: why it’s important to measure and communicate impact and the value of win-win strategic partnerships.
Inspiring Impact explains that impact measurement is about:
“…learning how to best serve the people you support. This means planning what difference you want to make; collecting the right information to know if you’re achieving your goals; assessing what impact you’re having; and learning and adapting your work.”
This is powerful stuff and goes way beyond measuring outputs and outcomes. However, this is only the start of the story. It’s important to understand how effectively communicating the relevant impact information can be a means of engaging with different stakeholders. For example, take potential funders. On paper, a charity may fit their funding criteria, such as young people’s participation. However, evidencing that a charity held five participatory events over a 12-month period, attended by 150 young people is meaningless, unless the impact can be demonstrated. The narrative needs to be crafted explaining what those young people did at those five events, their takeaways, what happened next and the impact on their lives. The charity was the conduit for facilitating this.
Similarly, raising the profile of a charity’s work in the media is more interesting if the readership can see the impact of the charity’s work for themselves. Quantitative stats and data tell a partial story; however, when this is overlain with the service user’s telling their stories in their own words – how the charity’s services have touched their lives and describing the difference that this has made and how, readers will sit up and take notice.
Another way for charities to maximise their impact is to develop win-win strategic partnerships. Charities are often unaware of how much they bring to the table that other stakeholders value. A charity may have a grassroots network and a local presence, deep knowledge and expertise around a specific issue, an ability to innovate to respond to a given situation and credibility with a number of partner organisations. An HBR Spotlight series article, The Messy but Essential Pursuit of Purpose, explains how:
“Deep purpose organisations are deeply committed to both positive commercial and positive social outcomes. Their leaders adopt a mindset of practical idealism.”.
Charities are uniquely placed to help brands connect to purpose and this is why brands will want to start conversations with charities. With a bit of knowhow, charities can negotiate meaningful partnerships that add value for both parties. This is an example from the social enterprise sector: The Diversity Trust, a community interest company influencing social change to create a fairer and safer society, has partnered with the brand Skin Deep, a range of skin tone plasters. Skin Deep has agreed to donate a portion of their profits to support The Diversity Trust’s work in exchange for having a curated role in key areas of the Trust’s work, such as collaborating on the Trust’s Equalities Podcast series 3, around the theme of allyship.
Annie Moon, Founder of Be The Difference, is passionate about helping others create thoughtful, intentional philanthropy delivered strategically and maximising impact. As a qualified youth and community development worker with 3 decades’ experience in the impact space, Annie has always remained true to her professional roots. Having worked at the grassroots and strategic level, across multiple sectors and facilitating effective partnerships, she has unique insights into how to facilitate and scale positive impact through involving all the stakeholders in an inclusive, transparent process. She believes in building the infrastructure around the chosen cause/community to foster long term, sustainable positive change.
She is a long-term ambassador for Mums In Need, a charity confronting coercive control, an issue particularly close to her heart.