Impact story: How do you know you’re making a difference?

Northamptonshire Community Foundation (NCF) is a place-based grant making charity funding community groups that make a positive difference to the wellbeing of local communities.

Since 2012 we have an impact assessment framework to measure the difference of the awards we make as well as upskilling small community groups in measuring impact.

We wanted to answer the question ‘how do you know you are making a difference?

We had a lot of anecdotal information but recognised the need for more robust measurement and in turn improving the quality of information received from funded groups. We formed part of a steering group with other community foundations to develop a framework. We are currently piloting an improved and updated version promoting good practice in impact across our network.

Impact measurement has become embedded in our working culture—we have an impact committee and we are about to have our fifth impact review launch in February 2020. It helps us better communicate with donors and other stakeholders; it helps promote and raise the profile of the value of investing in frontline civil society and it has enabled us to support and upskill community groups and charities to measure impact and build their profile.

We recognised the importance of investing time in this step change and allocated a dedicated staff member of the team to lead on this. Our membership network led on the steering group and we met initially several times. We recognised the need to improve our grant making practice and the quality of information we were providing and viewed it as an essential priority.

The benefit of impact practice is quite simple—to be able to measure what kind of difference you are making. It becomes an essential tool for ensuring you are achieving what you set out to achieve.

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