Dr John Blackmore, Chief Executive at Action West London, and grantee of the Impact Management programme shares the challenges and opportunities to organisations measuring social impact.
Action West London (AWL) is a well-established charity and social enterprise (20th anniversary year is 2018/2019 ). We work with over 600 disadvantaged individuals each year through a variety of ‘payment by results’ (PBR); grant funded and social enterprise projects. Our mission is ‘changing lives through employment education and enterprise’.
So, it stands to reason that we should be measuring the social impact of our work. But reason unfortunately is not the only factor at work. Finance is the key driving factor for all charities in these challenging times. Without sustainable finance you can’t deliver services.
AWL has been wanting to set up systems to measure impact for several years—but it takes time energy, commitment and most of all resources to kick start the process. Most staff are not keen to add extra data collection duties on top of what is already viewed as over-bureaucratic demands by funders.
Funders have very differing demands. Some funders aren’t clear what they mean by social impact but expect organisations to still measure it, some aren’t interested in social impact at all. Alongside this, very few funders will pay for staff time to measure social impact.