Learning from the Impact Management Programme grantees

Published1st February 2019

The Impact Management Programme has given out grants to 40 charities, social enterprises and community businesses who want to improve the way they collect, analyse and use data to make decisions. These grantees are doing year-long projects and NPC facilitates regular webinars and events for the group to reflect on progress and shared challenges. Theo Clay, a Consultant at NPC, reflects on the key discussions at the latest event in Manchester.

On January 23rd 2019, 21 ventures and providers came to Manchester for the final peer network face-to-face event of the Impact Management Programme. The aim of the day was to discuss common obstacles in impact management, and different ways grantees have tried to overcome these. The day was split into four sessions, with four different speakers from the peer network. Below is a summary of the key points of discussion from each session.

Using data to drive decision making

  • Collecting the right kind of data was key for ventures. Even though services vary hugely, one of our speakers found the type of data they were collecting was actually very similar. Some ventures had found that the restrictions of GDPR had streamlined their work by forcing them to focus only on the data they really needed.
  • Data collection does not have to be a burden. Some ventures found that, by paying attention to the questions they asked, the process can actually build trust and a better relationship with their users.
  • Ventures were most excited about how collecting their data can help them understand their target population better, and who would benefit from their programmes.

Systems and processes for impact management

  • Many ventures struggle with what type of CRM system best fits their needs. There was a discussion of the pros and cons of free services such as Google Sheets and Excel, compared to expensive off the shelf or bespoke software. For more information on this you can see NPC’s guidance on systems.
  • Our speakers had found that approaching systems and processes in terms of evolution, rather than revolution, was key to success. Work out what is possible now, and experiment with free tools first. Many people with expertise of data systems may be willing to volunteer their time to get some experience of using systems in this way.
  • One speaker emphasised that it is important to think about your data first, and how you can structure it in a way that is helpful to you, rather than to funders.

Embedding culture change in day-to-day delivery

  • Many attendees found that staff had the right attitude towards impact management but lacked the time to gain new knowledge to alter behaviours. Building new habits, and breaking old ones, is hard.
  • Good examples of embedding change from the attendees included: showing staff the results of data insights, building a data or impact team crossing many departments in the organisation, getting ‘impact champions’ to pilot things first—and then encouraging others, and finally speaking about impact more, “what went well” and “what did not?”. For more information on culture change see the impactsupport.org’s page on culture.

Life beyond the peer network

  • Attendees were making plans to re-evaluate their goals and resources in a targeted way after funding from the programme runs out, to make sure their progress continues.
  • To maintain funding, some ventures were building impact management into core costs, or within specific applications. Others were looking into alternative funding sources, for example the BLF Digital Fund.

Thank you to all our speakers and attendees. To find out more about the Impact Management Programme grantees, click here. For more information please get in touch with access@thinknpc.org.

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