The Benefits of Quantifying Societal Impact in the Voluntary Sector

Livingston James Director of Public & Not-for-Profit, Douglas Adam reflects on the benefits of quantifying impact for charities, ranging from tracking progress against their set missions to strengthening relationships with key stakeholders.

I recently had the privilege of attending an event with Right There – a Scottish charity dedicated to preventing homelessness and family separation- for the launch of its impact report. This report was developed in partnership with Sonnett Advisory and Impact and clearly highlights the tangible differences Right There has made for individuals in Scotland by addressing their unique needs and implementing the Theory of Change.

One of the most striking findings in the report is that Right There generates a societal benefit of at least £308 million based on one year’s cohort of referrals (estimated in net present value terms) a truly remarkable figure for a single organisation. It prompted me to consider whether individual organisations or the voluntary sector as a whole should place greater emphasis on quantifying their contributions and impact on society.

Quantifying impact is crucial for all charities to be able to secure funding (statutory grants or donations) and share the results once funding has been provided. Moreover, there are additional benefits associated with demonstrating the value of the work of these charities. Examples include improving effectiveness, enhancing transparency, and building trust. Below are some specific advantages:

  • Demonstrating Value and Effectiveness: Quantifying impact provides tangible evidence of a charity’s effectiveness, showing all internal and external parties that their programmes and initiatives are making a real difference. This can guide future decision-making and aid in strategy development.
  • Building Partnerships: Demonstrating impact can help charities build partnerships with other organisations, businesses, and stakeholders interested in contributing to meaningful causes.
  • Improving Programmes and Services: Charities can utilise impact measurements to identify which programmes are most effective and where improvements can be made, allowing for more efficient resource allocation and enhanced services. Quantitative data can reveal insights and trends that might not be immediately apparent, helping charities learn from their experiences and adapt their strategies.
  • Enhancing Transparency and Accountability: Transparency regarding a charity’s impact can help to build trust with donors, beneficiaries, and the public; it shows that the charity is holding itself accountable and is committed to its mission.
  • Influencing Policy and Public Opinion: Demonstrating impact with irrefutable data strengthens a charity’s advocacy efforts, providing credible evidence that can influence policy decisions and public opinion.
  • Raising Awareness: Quantified impact stories are powerful tools for raising awareness about the issues a charity addresses, making the cause more relatable and urgent to the public, potential supporters, and statutory funders.
  • Measuring Progress and Long-term Planning: Tracking progress over time helps charities assess whether they are on track to meet their goals and objectives while allowing them to respond or pivot in real time. Using this progress to quantify impact aids in long-term strategic planning by providing a clear picture of what works and what needs improving. It helps develop sustainable programmes and demonstrates return on investment, justifying continued or increased support from funders or external partners.

 

It is evident that quantifying impact is essential for charities to demonstrate their value, secure funding, improve operations, maintain transparency, influence change, and ensure sustainability. It transforms abstract goals into measurable outcomes, making it easier to communicate success and areas for growth to stakeholders. Ultimately, this approach helps charities fulfil their mission and deliver on their purpose more efficiently and effectively.

To find out more about quantifying impact or how Livingston James can support your Public & Not-for-Profit recruitment needs, please contact [email protected].

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