Measuring up impact self assessment

Measuring up is a free, step-by-step self-assessment tool that allows you to review and improve your organisation’s impact practice – that is, the way you plan, evidence, communicate and learn from the difference that your work makes.

Over 2,000 individuals have already used Measuring up for their organisations.

Careful, realistic planning lays the foundation for good impact practice. Accordingly, ‘Plan’ is the longest section of Measuring up, and the questions this section asks you to consider are relevant to all organisations, whatever their size, shape or ambition in terms of being able to plan, evidence, understand, communicate and learn from their impact.

To view this section’s Tool Tips – useful, concise explanations for why each indicator is important – simply click on the information icon.

Fuller guidance for this section, including links to useful resources and a description of what your practice would have to look like in order to meet each indicator in full, can be downloaded here.

Guidance for small organisations

Guidance for medium organisations

Guidance for funders

A needs assessment evidences the need for your work by identifying the extent and seriousness of existing problems, the services currently available and any gaps in provision. After completing your needs assessment, you can start defining how you plan to make a difference, laying the foundations for good impact practice.

If you’re getting started, searchable, national public datasets (e.g. Neighbourhood Statistics), as well as local information (e.g. Joint Strategic Needs Assessments) are good sources of information on your would-be beneficiaries and their needs.
To improve your practice further, collecting your own information by speaking to local people and partner organisations will add depth and relevancy to your needs assessment.

A needs assessment evidences the need for your work by identifying the extent and seriousness of existing problems, the services currently available and any gaps in provision. After completing your needs assessment, you can start defining how you plan to make a difference, laying the foundations for good impact practice.

If you’re getting started, searchable, national public datasets (e.g. Neighbourhood Statistics), as well as local information (e.g. Joint Strategic Needs Assessments) are good sources of information on your would-be beneficiaries and their needs.
To improve your practice further, collecting your own information by speaking to local people and partner organisations will add depth and relevancy to your needs assessment.
You may need to consider how to engage with socially excluded groups,
if this is relevant to your work.

Gathering information about both the needs of beneficiary communities, and also the resources available to them, is an important first step when setting funding priorities. This data gathering can help you describe and evidence existing skills, experience and physical assets, such as buildings and green spaces.

If you’re getting started, searchable, national public datasets (e.g. Neighbourhood Statistics), as well as local information (e.g. Joint Strategic Needs Assessments) are good sources of information on your would-be beneficiaries and their needs.
To improve your practice further, reviewing literature, examining what other funders are doing, gathering information from grantees and evaluating funded programmes will deepen your understanding of needs. You may also need to consider You may need to consider how to engage with socially excluded groups.

Your target group is the main group or groups in society that will benefit from your work. Your target group could be identified by geographical area, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or by health status or disability. Or you might be looking to benefit animals, other organisations or the environment.

If you’re getting started, use the data gathered in your needs assessment
to help describe your target group or groups, including their basic profile and defining characteristics.
To improve your practice further, delve deeper into the detail of your target groups by including more contextual information about their profile (e.g. socio-economic group, employment status) and pulling out different sub-groups
(e.g. single parents, children excluded from school or the homeless).

Your target group is the main group or groups in society that will benefit from your work. Your target group could be identified by geographical area, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or by health status or disability. Or you might be looking to benefit animals, other organisations or the environment.

If you’re getting started, use the data gathered in your needs assessment
to help describe your target group or groups, including their basic profile and defining characteristics.
To improve your practice further, delve deeper into the detail of your target groups by including more contextual information about their profile (e.g. socio-economic group, employment status) and pulling out different sub-groups
(e.g. single parents) and, where relevant, separate out first-line users (people who use your services) from end beneficiaries (people who benefit from your services).

Having defined your end beneficiaries (those groups in society who will benefit from your funding) and their needs, you will be in a better position to identify both your first line beneficiaries (the type of organisation and work you will fund), and appropriate levels of funding.

If you’re getting started, use the data from your needs assessment to help describe your target group or groups, including their basic profile and defining characteristics.
To improve your practice further, pull out different sub-groups (e.g. single parents) and, where relevant, separate out first-line users (the organisations you fund) from end beneficiaries (people who benefit from those services) and identify those who will benefit indirectly (e.g. the local community).

A mission statement sets out the biggest, most broad-reaching change that you want to see as a result of your work (your impact). This can include effects on the people who use your service, wider groups (e.g. the local community), or effects on a wider field such as government policy.

If you’re getting started, before you begin working with your team, review useful guidance
on creating an impactful mission statement
, as well as a few good examples.
To improve your practice further, involving people from all parts of your organisation in the process (including staff, trustees, and volunteers) will ensure that the end document is recognisable and motivational to everyone, making it a more powerful guiding document.

A mission statement sets out the biggest, most broad-reaching change that you want to see as a result of your work (your impact). This can include effects on the people who use your service, wider groups (e.g. the local community), or effects on a wider field such as government policy.

If you’re getting started, before you begin working with your team, review useful guidance
on creating an impactful mission statement, as well as a few good examples.
To improve your practice further, involving people from all parts of your organisation in the process (including staff, trustees, and volunteers) will ensure that your mission statement is recognisable and motivational to everyone. It should also be written into all key documents.

A mission statement sets out the biggest, most broad-reaching change that you want to see as a result of your work (your impact). This can include the effects on funded organisations, on those affected directly and indirectly by funded work, and on wider changes, such as shifts in government policy.

If you’re getting started, before you begin working with your team, review useful guidance
on creating an impactful mission statement
, as well as a few good examples.
To improve your practice further, involving people from all parts of your organisation in the process (including staff, trustees, and volunteers) will ensure that your mission statement is recognisable and motivational to everyone. It should also be written into all key documents.

Your outcomes are the changes, benefits, learning or other effects that happen as a result of the work you deliver. Your work as an organisation has the potential to produce any number of outcomes for different groups, both positive and negative, planned or unexpected.

If you’re getting started, begin with guidance on creating clear, concise outcomes for your work.
Developing your outcomes in collaboration with your beneficiaries will help to keep your outcomes relevant and realistic.

To improve your practice further, creating a Theory of Change
could help you to tell a more complex story about how your work makes a difference to beneficiaries.

Your outcomes are the changes, benefits, learning or other effects that happen as a result of the work you deliver. Your work as an organisation has the potential to produce any number of outcomes for different groups, both positive and negative, planned or unexpected.

If you’re getting started, begin with guidance on creating clear, concise outcomes for your work.
Developing your outcomes in collaboration with your beneficiaries will help to keep your outcomes relevant and realistic.
Mapping out your intermediate outcomes – the small changes that occur for beneficiaries in the lead up to a bigger change or an end outcome – will help you to understand the order in which changes occur .

Your outcomes are the changes, benefits, learning or other effects that happen as a result of the work you fund. Being able to identify and describe your outcomes (both positive and negative, planned or unexpected) will enable you to direct your funding towards activities likely to create the desired change.

If you’re getting started, guidance on creating outcomes for your work can be found here.

To improve your practice further, working in partnership with grantees to agree outcomes
for specific funded work will help to keep outcomes realistic and relevant. It will also give you a basis for developing agreed measures of impact with the grantees. This is all part of an impact-driven approach to funding.

Your outputs are the products and services that you deliver. You can measure your outputs using indicators - these are well-defined, easily measurable information pieces of information that will help you to work out whether or not you delivered your work in the way you planned.

If you’re getting started, begin by setting a prioritised number of output indicators
, that include a good mix of data
, including quantitative (numbers) and qualitative (narrative) information about what you delivered, and who your clients were.
To improve your practice further, collecting information about the level of user satisfaction will help you to understand how people experience the services that you provide. See how other charities have done this.

Your Theory of Change describes how the work that you do (your outputs) creates change for individuals (your outcomes) and for society more widely (your impact). It illustrates how and why you make a difference and will help you decide what information you might need to collect as evidence.

If you’re getting started, creating a Theory of Change could help you to tell a more complex story about how your work makes a difference to beneficiaries.
To improve your practice further, including information about the resources you will need (your inputs) and the partners that you will need to collaborate with for your work to be successful will help you to produce a theory of change document that is realistic and a useful tool for strategic planning.

Your Theory of Change describes how the work that you resource (your outputs) creates change for individuals (your outcomes) and for society more widely (your impact). It illustrates how and why your funding makes a difference and will help you decide what information you might need to collect as evidence.

If you’re getting started, you can start by reviewing how to create a theory of change for your funding programme,
and looking at a few examples
from other funders.
To improve your practice further, including information about the timescales within which changes happens, as well as the resources and partnerships required in order to succeed, will help you to produce a theory of change document that is realistic and a useful tool for strategic planning.

Before gathering evidence of your outcomes, you will need to set outcome indicators. These are the signs that the outcome has happened, or that progress is being made towards it. They can be quantitative (measuring the number of changes, or the amount of change) and qualitative (describing people’s perceptions and experiences).

If you’re getting started, begin by selecting a number of priority outcomes and setting at least one useful outcome indicator
for each.
To improve your practice further, selecting a range of qualitative
and quantitative
indicators will give you good range of information
about which outcomes were achieved. Collecting different perspectives on change will make your evidence of change more detailed and robust.

Organisations do not work in a vacuum! Consider the role that other organisations play in your success, either by achieving different outcomes for the same beneficiaries, or through contributing to the delivery of shared outcomes that you would both like to create through your work.

If you’re getting started, bringing together partners for discussion will ensure you share a working understanding about how your organisation’s outcomes contribute to, or overlap with, their desired impact.
To improve your practice further, sharing information that you have collected separately or even developing a shared plan for impact measurement will help you to measure the more broad-reaching, longer-term changes that come out of your work together.

Being aware of how your funding priorities overlap with those of other funders will allow you to fund work that is collaborative or complementary, increasing your ability to make a difference. Grantees can also be supported to identify others doing similar work and opportunities for closer working or collaboration.

If you’re getting started, consider how your funding might complement other resources
and whether more formal joint funding
could achieve greater impact. Encourage grantees to identify shared outcomes and opportunities for collaboration, too.
To improve your practice further, target your funding to enhance existing resources. Supporting grantees to develop a shared plan for impact measurement
with their partners will help you to measure the impact of your work together.

Before you begin collecting evidence, clarify what information you need for funders / commissioners, internal learning, and your Board. This will allow you to set priorities and make best use of your resources by building a streamlined plan that doesn’t gather information that you don’t need, or miss out something vital.

If you’re getting started, reviewing your grant or contract documents to collate your external reporting requirements and developing a meaningful set of internal reporting metrics with the Board
is a good place to start.
To improve your practice further, think strategically about the information you might need in the future to develop your work. This will help you to make informed decisions about the way you grow and fund your organisation.

Before you begin collecting evidence, clarify what information you need for funders / commissioners, internal learning, and your Board. This will allow you to set priorities and make best use of your resources by building a streamlined plan that doesn’t gather information that you don’t need, or miss out something vital.

If you’re getting started, reviewing your grant or contract documents to collate your external reporting requirements and developing a meaningful set of internal reporting metrics with the Board
so that they can come to champion impact in your organisation.
To improve your practice further, regularly review your information needs and think strategically about the information you might need in the future to develop your work. This will help you to make informed decisions about the way you grow and fund your organisation.

Before you begin collecting evidence, clarify what information you need for your Board, trustees or governing body. This will allow you to set priorities and make best use of your resources by building a streamlined plan that doesn’t gather information that you don’t need, or miss out something vital.

If you’re getting started, begin by reviewing your grant or contract documents to collate your external reporting requirements and developing a meaningful set of internal reporting metrics with the Board.
To improve your practice further, regularly reviewing your information needs and thinking strategically about the information you might need in the future will help you to make informed decisions about the way you grow and fund your organisation.

Your data collection tools (e.g. questionnaires, interviews or creative methods such as games or art) need to suit your service users, staff skills, and informational needs. They should also make best use of the processes you currently have in place and yield data you can easily store and analyse.

If you’re getting started, begin with guidance on selecting or reviewing your data collection tools
and on the pros and cons of different tools.

To improve your practice further, consider adapting your data collection to take into account the kind of information your staff, funders or other stakeholders require or even prefer. Find out more about communicating with different data audiences.

Your outputs are the products and services that you deliver. You can measure your outputs using indicators - these are well-defined, easily measurable information pieces of information that will help you to work out whether or not you delivered your work in the way you planned.

If you’re getting started, begin by setting a prioritised number of output indicators
, that include a good mix of data, including quantitative (numbers) and qualitative (narrative) information about what you delivered, and who your clients were.
To improve your practice further, collecting information about the level of user satisfaction will help you to understand how people experience the services that you provide. See how other charities have done this.

Supporting your grantees to set output and outcome indicators – well-defined, easily measurable information about (respectively) what work was delivered and to whom, as well as what changed for beneficiaries – sets the groundwork for building a measurement plan or framework, including which indicators will be measured, when, how and by whom.

If you’re getting started, begin by supporting grantees to create a plan for evaluation
or build an evaluation framework
which sets output and outcome indicators
and describes key types of information
which will be collected, how, when, and by whom.
To improve your practice further, encourage your grantees to consult beneficiaries about
useful indicators. Including a description of how each piece of information will be used helps streamline the framework.

Your plan is a road map for collecting evidence and clarifies which outputs and outcomes are going to be measured, with what tool, when and by whom. It is crucial for making sure that nothing important gets left out, and that everyone understands their role in collecting information.

If you’re getting started, you can find more guidance on creating a framework
which sets out what information you want to capture on outputs and outcomes, how data will be collected, when it will be collected, and who is responsible for collecting it.
To improve your practice further, including within your framework a description of how the information will be used will help you to further streamline your data collection.

Before gathering evidence of your outcomes, you will need to set outcome indicators. These are the signs that the outcome has happened, or that progress is being made towards it. They can be quantitative (measuring the number of changes, or the amount of change) and qualitative (describing people’s perceptions and experiences).

If you’re getting started, begin by selecting a number of priority outcomes and setting at least one useful outcome indicator
for each.
To improve your practice further, selecting a range of qualitative
and quantitative
indicators will give you a good range of information
about which outcomes were achieved. Collecting different perspectives on change will make your evidence of change more detailed and robust.

The data collection tools you use (e.g. questionnaires, interviews or creative methods) need to suit the type of work being delivered by your funded projects and their staff skills, as well as your informational needs. They should also yield data which can be easily stored and analysed by grantees.

If you’re getting started, begin with guidance on selecting or reviewing your data collection tools
and on the pros and cons of different tools.
To improve your practice further, agreeing a tool for shared measurement across a funded programme
will give you greater insight into your overall impact. You could also consider using a validated tool, which may deliver better data if used appropriately, or collaborating across your sector to generate better data. Grantees may need additional resources around data collection (funding, training, etc.).

Your data collection tools (e.g. questionnaires, interviews or creative methods such as games or art) need to suit your service users, staff skills, and informational needs. They should also make best use of the processes you currently have in place and yield data you can easily store and analyse.

If you’re getting started, begin with guidance on selecting or reviewing your data collection tools
and on the pros and cons of different tools.
To improve your practice further, consult with your beneficiaries and data collecting staff about which tools would work. This will help you to select tools tailored to beneficiaries’ needs and staff skills and processes. You could also consider using a validated tool, if it truly suits your context.

Targets for outputs and outcomes can help both you and your grantee to track whether your funding is being used as planned. Before work begins, realistic and time-specific targets linked to your funding goals should be set with the grantee. These may need to be revised once delivery has started.

If you’re getting started, begin by working with grantees to set realistic targets
that clearly relate to your desired impact as a funder.
To improve your practice further, including client satisfaction targets will provide key data on this crucial area of service delivery. Consulting with grantees about progress towards meeting targets will help you to adjust them as appropriate in the light of evidence of what is achievable.

Your plan (or framework) is a road map for collecting evidence and clarifies which outputs and outcomes are going to be measured, with what tool, when and by whom. It is crucial for making sure that nothing important gets left out, and that everyone understands their role in collecting information.

If you’re getting started, you can find more guidance on creating a framework
which describes what information will be collected, how, when, and by whom . It may make sense to build a framework for your organisation as a whole rather than for individual projects so that you can see how your work fits together.
To improve your practice further, including a description of how the information will be used can help streamline your framework. Adding targets will make it a more useful document that links to your strategic planning by defining what success looks like.

Assessing available resources will help you to build a realistic plan for evidencing your impact. A more informed picture of the costs involved will also help you to come to an agreement with your grantees about the amount of information that it is reasonable to collect and the resources required.

If you’re getting started, start by mapping available resources, including IT, money, staff time, and skills. Consider the resources of your beneficiaries as well as your own organisation.
To improve your practice further, build a plan for how to develop your resources. This might include building your own capacity, (e.g. through improved IT systems
, recruiting staff with specialist skills, or external consultancy) or building the capacity of grantees through training and technical assistance, an increased evaluation budget or funding external evaluations.

Setting realistic targets for what you want to achieve as an organisation is a good way of building a strong link between gathering evidence and strategic planning by your Board. Good targets will be realistic, time specific, and will clearly set out what success looks like.

If you’re getting started, begin by setting realistic targets
for your priority outputs and outcomes, that clearly describe what your organisation plans to achieve. How many people would need to benefit for your theory of change
to be considered useful or valid?
To improve your practice further, including client satisfaction targets will provide key data on this crucial area of service delivery. Talking to the people responsible for delivering the work and meeting targets should help you to set realistic and motivating targets.

Assessing your available resources will help you to build a realistic plan for evidencing your impact. A more informed picture of the costs involved will also help you to come to an agreement with your funders and commissioners about the amount of information that it is reasonable to collect.

If you’re getting started, start by mapping available resources, including IT, money, staff time, and skills .
To improve your practice further, immediate steps such as staff training will allow you to make some relatively quick improvements to your capacity. Building a longer-term plan – for example, by acquiring a new database or hiring a consultant to help with a specific area – will make a case for greater future investment.

You can go back and forward between sections even if you haven't completed all of the questions

‘Plan’ is about describing the changes that you want to create through your work, and deciding what information to collect. ‘Do’ is about the business of data collection – the process of gathering evidence to show how and why your work makes a difference.

This section of Measuring up asks you to think about how to collect data in a way that is meaningful, ethical, and streamlined to your way of working.

To view this section’s Tool Tips – useful, concise explanations for why each indicator is important – simply click on the information icon.

Fuller guidance for this section, including links to useful resources and a description of what your practice would have to look like in order to meet each indicator in full, can be downloaded here.

Guidance for small organisations

Guidance for medium organisations

Guidance for funders

Limited resources or logistical challenges may make it impossible to collect data from everyone you work with. You could consider collecting information from a sample (a selection from a larger group). Your sample needs to be the right size and contain the right cross-section of service users to be useful.

If you’re getting started, start with the data diagnostic tool for guidance on the kind of data you could collect, and practical options for data collection. Is your plan in line with your available resources? Could you consider using a sample?
To improve your practice further, checking your data periodically to make sure that you are gathering data from the right groups will give you time to make necessary adjustments.

Ensuring that everyone understands the importance of measuring your impact is critical to collecting quality data. Clear leadership at all levels of your organisation will allow you to make a convincing case for impact measurement, to promote it as a valuable activity within your organisation, and to drive it forwards.

If you’re getting started, ensure that you have a named person or group responsible for focusing on evaluation and promoting impact culture so that everyone sees impact measurement as a worthwhile activity.
To improve your practice further, consider other ways of making impact core business in every role from volunteers to trustees, including building it into staff appraisals, job adverts and team meetings .

Clear leadership will allow you to promote impact measurement as a valuable activity within your organisation, and to drive it forwards with grantees. Supporting grantees to gather good data and providing sound evidence to your trustees/ governing entity will help to keep impact practice a central commitment in your work.

If you’re getting started, in addition to promoting impact culture within your own organisation, communicate the importance of impact measurement and support grantees to collect adequate data.
To improve your practice further, make sure that information about funding programmes, application criteria and guidance all promote the value of impact measurement Even with modest resources, your own shared understanding and skills can be developed, e.g. by sharing good practice with grantees.

Making sure your tools are fit for purpose involves piloting – road testing them for a short period, and amending them if necessary. Testing out the way you plan to analyse and store the data that comes from the tools can also help you to identify any design issues.

If you’re getting started, think through how to develop a useful pilot.
Try the tool in different settings with all the target groups. Remember to also pilot analysing and securely storing the data.
To improve your practice further, chat to your staff team and review the data gathered to check for validity (does the tool collect the information that you wanted to collect?) and reliability (can it collect information consistently?).

Limited resources, logistics or specific research questions may lead you to gather information from a sample (a selection from a larger group) rather than from everyone you work with. Your sample needs to be the right size and contain the right cross-section of service users to be useful.

If you’re getting started, begin by reviewing the size and scope of your data collection. Does it suit the type of data that you want to collect, as well as your available resources? Could you consider using a sample?
To improve your practice further, checking your data periodically to make sure that you are gathering data from the right groups will give you time to make adjustments if necessary.

Checking monitoring reports to ensure that the information provided gives good quality evidence of key outputs and outcomes, and establishing processes to follow up with grantees on gaps and inconsistencies will allow you to identify any issues with data collection early in the life of the grant.

If you’re just getting started, make sure you have a process in place to check that good quality data has been submitted by grantees and for following up where necessary.
To improve your practice further, you may need to support grantees to take a more proactive approach to engaging with harder-to-reach groups to ensure they get a good response, especially if their work targets these groups in particular. For these groups, good quality, consistent data may be hard to get.

Your data collection tools will have to be used consistently and appropriately by the people responsible for collecting the data in order to give you the quality and quantity of information that you need. This might mean accessing training, information resources, and providing encouragement and ad hoc support.

If you’re getting started, training and ad hoc support can ensure that everyone responsible for data collection understands how to use the tools, the value of impact measurement, and where to go for support.
To improve your practice further, including data collection in team reviews and appraisals will help address issues around inconsistent collection. This is all part of developing an impact culture in your organisation.

A good response rate – the number of people who decide to give you information, out of the total number of people that you ask to participate – is crucial to impact measurement. You will need a plan for tracking and following up participants that is realistic given the resources available.

If you’re just getting started, make sure you have a process in place for improving your response rate by following up with people who do not respond or who don’t provide all the information that you need , and consider incentivising responses.
To improve your practice further, consider developing a proactive approach to engaging with harder-to-reach groups to ensure you get a good response, especially if your work targets these groups in particular.

In order to provide the quality and quantity of information that you require, the people collecting data will need to use their data collection tools consistently, effectively and enthusiastically. As resources permit, this might mean accessing training, information resources, and/or providing encouragement and ad hoc support to grantees.

If you’re getting started, training and ad hoc support can ensure that grantees understand how to collect data
and where to find support.

To improve your practice further, periodically checking in on data quality and including data collection in team reviews and appraisals will help address issues around inconsistent collection. This is all part of This is all part of developing an impact culture in your organisation.

Beneficiaries must understand why you are collecting information, how it will be stored safely, and how it will be used. Obtaining informed consent means making sure that beneficiaries have the information they need in order to be able to make an informed choice about whether or not to participate.

If you’re getting started, it may be helpful to find out more about processes for obtaining informed consent
and storing data ethically
as well as ethical research.
To improve your practice further, enable beneficiaries to take part anonymously. This will involve explaining to beneficiaries how you plan to report on and use your findings, and offering the opportunity for them to review how their data is presented before publication.

Making sure your tools are fit for purpose involves piloting – road testing them for a short period, and amending them if necessary. Testing out the way you plan to analyse and store the data that comes from the tools can also help you to identify any design issues.

If you’re getting started, think through how to develop a useful pilot.
Remember to also pilot analysing and storing the data. Make any necessary amends before roll-out.
To improve your practice further, chat to your staff team and review the data gathered to check for validity (does the tool collect the information that you wanted to collect?) and reliability (can it collect information consistently?), and review your tools periodically for relevance .

To understand the extent to which your funding has created change, you will need to encourage grantees to gather evidence that compares the ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture for beneficiaries. How you do this will depend on how rigorous you want or need to be, as well as on your resources.

If you’re getting started, make sure you are encouraging grantees to collect before and after data, even if it’s too late to establish a baseline measure.
To improve your practice, you could compare grantee outcome data with research on outcomes for similar groups who did not receive support or with data from a control group to get a more informed picture of how much change has been created.

As part of collecting evidence, you might have to handle sensitive personal information about your beneficiaries. This personal data must be managed in keeping with the Data Protection Act if your organisation is to fulfil its legal responsibilities in terms of keeping data safe and using data appropriately.

If you’re getting started, begin with guidance on how charities can comply with data protection regulation
and GDPR.
The Information Commissioner’s Office
has details for charities.
To improve your practice further, developing and sharing a written policy on data protection
will create a helpful resource for making sure that everyone in your organisation understands the procedures in place around the legal storage and use of personal data.

Your data collection tools will have to be used consistently and appropriately by the people responsible for collecting the data in order to give you the quality and quantity of information that you need. This might mean accessing training, information resources, and providing encouragement and ad hoc support.

If you’re getting started, training and ad hoc support can ensure that everyone responsible for data collection understands how to use the tools, why they matter, and where to find support.

To improve your practice further, periodically checking in on data quality and including data collection in team reviews and appraisals will help address issues around inconsistent collection. This is all part of This is all part of developing an impact culture in your organisation.

Anyone collecting information on your behalf must ensure that beneficiaries provide informed consent – that is, that beneficiaries understand why information is being collected, how it will be stored safely, and how it will be used, so that they can make an informed choice about whether or not to participate.

If you’re getting started, it may be helpful to find out more about processes for obtaining informed consent and storing data ethically as well asethical research .
To improve your practice further, think carefully about whether your data collection activities might carry a longer-term risk for participants, such as emotional distress. In these cases, you will need to provide information about, or access to further support in order to meet your ethical obligations.

To draw conclusions about the extent to which your work has created change, you will need to gather evidence that compares the ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture for beneficiaries. How you do this will depend on how rigorous you want or need to be, as well as on your resources.

If you’re getting started, there are different methods to consider for collecting before and after data, even if it’s too late to establish a baseline measure.
To improve your practice further, you could compare your outcome data with research or public data on outcomes for similar groups who did not receive support or with data from a control group to get a more informed picture of how much change you created . Considering a more sophisticated or robust research design would enable you to make broader generalisations about the impact of your work.

Beneficiary involvement in data collection is a continuum, which runs from consultation (i.e. gathering feedback) through to ownership, where beneficiaries take the lead. The level of involvement appropriate for your organisation will depend on your ethos and values, available resources, the type of data you need and ethical considerations.

If you’re getting started, begin by considering what level of beneficiary involvement is appropriate to your organisation. From here you can plan out different approaches and techniques for involving beneficiaries.
To improve your practice further, periodically reviewing the role that beneficiaries play in your data collection processes and making sure that it is included in your assessment of resources for evaluation will keep participation safe, meaningful and sustainable within your organisation.

Beneficiaries must understand why you are collecting information, how it will be stored safely, and how it will be used. Obtaining informed consent means making sure that beneficiaries have the information they need in order to be able to make an informed choice about whether or not to participate.

If you’re getting started, it may be helpful to find out more about processes for obtaining informed consent and storing data ethically as well asethical research .
To improve your practice further, think carefully about whether your data collection activities might carry a longer-term risk for participants, such as emotional distress. In these cases, you will need to provide information about, or access to further support in order to meet your ethical obligations.

You can go back and forward between sections even if you haven't completed all of the questions

‘Assess’ covers data analysis – the process of bringing together the evidence that you have collected, and making sense of it in order to understand how much change has happened, for whom, and why. In addition to covering key steps in analysis and making sense of change, this section also explains the questions you will need to ask yourself in order to get an objective picture of your impact overall. This includes thinking about the other factors that could have contributed to your impact, as well as how much change might have happened independently of your work.

To view this section’s Tool Tips – useful, concise explanations for why each indicator is important – simply click on the information icon.

Fuller guidance for this section, including links to useful resources and a description of what your practice would have to look like in order to meet each indicator in full, can be downloaded here.

Guidance for small organisations

Guidance for medium organisations

Guidance for funders

Using your data to explain change requires two steps to analysis. Firstly, you will need to bring together all of your data from different sources for review. Secondly, you will need to interpret the data in the context of your work, trying to explain how and why changes might have happened.

If you’re getting started, you will need to analyse your data,
synthesising and comparing the information to see whether they support the same conclusions or tell you more about how and why change occurs.
To improve your practice further, compare different perspectives on change – for example comparing data from both parents and their children – to get an in-depth picture of why outcomes occur.

As part of collecting evidence, you might have to handle sensitive personal information about your beneficiaries. This personal data must be managed in keeping with the Data Protection Act if your organisation is to fulfil its legal responsibilities in terms of keeping data safe and using data appropriately.

If you’re getting started, begin with guidance on how charities can comply with data protection regulation
and GDPR.

To improve your practice further, developing and sharing a written policy on data protection and explaining the policy to beneficiaries will create a helpful resource for making sure that everyone in your organisation and everyone using your services understands the procedures in place around the legal storage and use of personal data.

As part of collecting evidence, you and your grantees might have to handle sensitive personal information about beneficiaries. This personal data must be managed in keeping with the Data Protection Act for both of you to fulfil your legal responsibilities in terms of keeping data safe and using data appropriately.

If you’re getting started, begin with guidance on how charities can comply with data protection regulation
and GDPR.

To improve your practice further, developing and sharing a written policy on data protection and explaining the policy to beneficiaries will create a helpful resource for making sure that everyone in your organisation and everyone using your services understands the procedures in place around the legal storage and use of personal data.

The most important learning for your organisation may rest with the negative or unplanned outcomes that you discover. It is important that you give this data the same amount of time, care and scrutiny as positive outcome data during analysis, and ask the same questions about why changes occur.

If you’re getting started, begin by ensuring that negative and/ or unexpected outcomes are analysed just as carefully as positive and planned ones. Learning from failure
is part of understanding ‘what works’.
To improve your practice further, considering any problems during data collection or issues with missing data, as well as reflecting on how bias
might have influenced your work, will help you decide which findings are most important.

Making sure that data can be entered, stored, analysed and reported on quickly and easily is crucial to ensuring impact measurement is supported by staff and volunteers across the organisation. This means that choosing a suitable IT system is a vital part of investing in your impact practice.

If you’re getting started, researching what’s available and speaking to partners about what works for them will help you to choose the right database and use ICT to get the most out of your evaluation data.
To improve your practice further, automating data quality checks and reporting will give you greater control over your data and save you time.

Making sure that data can be entered, stored, analysed and reported on quickly and easily is crucial to ensuring impact measurement is supported across your organisation. Choosing a suitable IT system is a vital part of investing in your impact practice, and grantees should be supported to do the same.

If you’re getting started, researching what’s available and speaking to partners about what works for them will help you to choose the right database and use ICT to get the most out of your evaluation data.
Sharing information about IT
with grantees will help them to build their resources too.
To improve your practice further, automating data quality checks and reporting will give you greater control over your data and save you time.

There will always be a number of other agents involved in creating outcomes. In order to understand your impact, your analysis will need to consider the question of attribution – an assessment of how much change was down to your work, and how much was down to the work of others.

If you’re getting started, you can use what you know about the involvement of others in creating change to draw sensible conclusions about attribution
(the extent to which other actors or circumstances may have supported or held back the achievement of your planned outcomes).
To improve your practice further, asking beneficiaries directly about other agencies or factors that may have helped or hindered their progress will deepen your understanding of attribution.

Explaining why changes occur is vital to understanding your impact. Firstly, you will need to analyse each type of data separately to make sense of it. Secondly, you will need to bring together the different types of data you have collected during analysis to try and explain why change happens.

If you’re getting started, you will need to analyse your data, synthesising and comparing the information to see whether they support the same conclusions or tell you more about how change occurs.
To improve your practice further, reviewing how different sources of information support or contradict each other will give you a sense of which of your findings are strongest, as will exploring early findings iteratively with key stakeholders.

Explaining why changes occur is vital to understanding your impact. Firstly, you will need to analyse each type of data separately to make sense of it. Secondly, you will need to bring together the different types of data you have collected during analysis to try and explain why changes happen.

If you’re getting started, you will need to analyse your data,, by synthesising the learning and data submitted by grantees across the programme to understand more about whether your own theory of change is valid or not.
To improve your practice further, exploring how different sources of information support or contradict each other will give you a sense of which of your findings are strongest, as will exploring early findings iteratively with key stakeholders.

Trends and patterns in outcome data for the whole of your beneficiary group may hide important differences between different groups. Separating out data for different groups in order to compare the amount and type of change that they experience – also described as disaggregation – is an important step in your analysis.

If you’re getting started, begin by disaggregating your outcome data for different types of beneficiaries in order to assess whether different groups experience different amounts or types of change.
To improve your practice further, taking unexplained differences between groups back to your staff, volunteers and beneficiaries will help you to collect additional perspectives and information to explore and explain how and why groups experience different outcomes.

Trends and patterns in outcome data for the whole of your beneficiary group may hide important differences between different groups. Separating out data for different groups in order to compare the amount and type of change that they experience – also described as disaggregation – is an important step in your analysis.

If you’re getting started, begin disaggregating your outcome data for different types of beneficiary in order to assess whether different groups experience different amounts or types of change, and encouraging grantees to do the same. You could consider doing this exercise in consultation with grantees via a workshop or event.
To improve your practice further, taking unexplained differences between groups back to your grantees will help you to collect additional information to explore why groups experience different outcomes. Encourage grantees to run the same exercise.

The most important learning for your organisation may rest with the negative or unplanned outcomes that you discover. It is important that you give this data the same amount of time, care and scrutiny as positive outcome data during analysis, and ask the same questions about why changes occur.

If you’re getting started, ensure that negative outcomes are analysed as carefully as positive ones. Learning from failure is part of understanding ‘what works’.
To improve your practice further, considering data collection problems, as well as reflecting on how bias
might have influenced your work, will help you decide which findings are most important. Having your processes and findings reviewed externally, by peers or experts, will add further objectivity.

The most important learning may rest with the negative or unplanned outcomes that you discover. It is important that you give this data the same amount of time, care and scrutiny as positive outcome data during analysis, and that you ask grantees to report on negative outcomes.

If you’re getting started, ensure that negative outcomes are analysed as carefully as positive ones. Learning from failure is part of understanding ‘what works’.
To improve your practice further, considering data collection problems, as well as reflecting on how bias
might have influenced your work, will help you decide which findings are most important. Having your processes and findings reviewed externally, by peers or experts, will add further objectivity.

There will always be a number of other actors and factors involved in creating outcomes. Your analysis will need to consider the question of attribution – an assessment of how much change was down to your work, and how much was down to the work of others and the wider environment.

If you’re getting started, you can use what you know about the involvement of others in creating change to draw sensible conclusions about attribution
(the extent to which other actors or circumstances may have supported or held back the achievement of your planned outcomes).
To improve your practice further, asking beneficiaries directly about other agencies or factors that may have helped or hindered their progress will deepen your understanding of attribution.
You may decide to add a line of accountability’ to your theory of change ‘ , reflecting where direct attribution stops and a broader contribution to change begins.

Change is complex, with many actors and factors contributing. Grantees should be encouraged to use what they know about the involvement of others in creating change in order to draw conclusions about which other variables may have affected their outcomes, and to consider what might have happened without their intervention.

If you’re getting started, encourage your grantees to use what they know about the involvement of others in creating change to draw sensible conclusions about attribution (how other actors or factors supported or hindered the achievement of outcomes).
To improve your practice further, encourage grantees to ask beneficiaries directly about other agencies that contributed to progress to deepen your understanding of attribution, and to consider broader socio-economic or environmental issues. To really understand contribution to change, consider funding a control group.

Considering the amount of change that would have happened without your intervention (also known as deadweight) is an important part of analysis. Describing how much change would have occurred if you did not exist (the counterfactual) will help you to get a more accurate picture of your contribution to change.

If you’re getting started, explore the counterfactual with your beneficiaries – what would have happened anyway without your intervention, or if your organisation did not exist.
To improve your practice further, you could compare your outcome data with research on outcomes for similar groups who did not receive support or withdata from a control group to get a more informed picture of how much change you created . (See also 2.6).

Making a financial case for the work you fund means highlighting the connection between the outcomes achieved for beneficiaries, and the contribution made by grantees in terms of potential cost savings to ‘expensive’ societal problems (for example in tackling unemployment, environmental damage, and offending).

If you’re getting started, describing in broad terms how the work you fund impacts on costly economic, social and environmental issues will add depth to the way you report your findings.
To improve your practice further, by relating outcomes achieved to the cost of delivery, you can demonstrate your cost effectiveness. .
Monetisation can describe your overall impact (including soft outcomes) in financial terms. This methodology is used in Social Return On Investment.

Making a financial case for your work means highlighting the connection between the outcomes you achieve for beneficiaries, and your organisation’s contribution to ‘costly’ societal problems, for example unemployment, environmental damage, and offending. This can help to explain the value of your work to partners, funders, commissioners, and the public.

If you’re getting started, describing in broad terms how your work impacts on costly economic, social and environmental issues will add depth to the way you report your findings.
To improve your practice further, by relating outcomes achieved to the cost of delivery, you can demonstrate your cost effectiveness.
Monetisation can describe your overall impact (including soft outcomes) in financial terms. This methodology is used in Social Return On Investment.

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In order to get the best return on the time, effort and resources you invest in planning, evidencing and making sense of your impact, you will need to use your findings for their ultimate purpose – helping your organisation to improve and grow. ‘Review’ looks at how you use your findings to get better at the way you plan, describe and deliver your work, as well as the way in which you embed your learning in order to get better at measuring the difference you make.

To view this section’s Tool Tips – useful, concise explanations for why each indicator is important – simply click on the information icon.

Fuller guidance for this section, including links to useful resources and a description of what your practice would have to look like in order to meet each indicator in full, can be downloaded here.

Guidance for small organisations

Guidance for medium organisations

Guidance for funders

Having gathered and analysed your evidence, make sure to communicate your findings widely. This could include funders / commissioners, partner agencies, and the public. Don’t forget to feed back to the people involved in creating and evidencing your impact – your service users and your staff and volunteers.

If you’re getting started, begin by considering the best ways to engage key stakeholders.
Using different methods to report your findings
might help. We encourage all organisations to share their learning
– whether the full report, a summary, or a blog post on what you’ve found. This builds public trust and confidence too.
To improve your practice further, including evidence of your impact in the materials you use to promote your service will help you communicate your findings to a wider audience.

Having gathered and analysed your evidence, make sure to communicate your findings widely. This could include funders / commissioners, partner agencies, and the public. Don’t forget to feed back to the people involved in creating and evidencing your impact – your service users and your staff and volunteers.

If you’re getting started, begin by considering the best ways to engage key stakeholders. Using different methods to report your findings
might help. Here’s how other organisations have shared their learning. To improve your practice further, including evidence of your impact in the materials you use to promote your service, and using local and national networks to spread your findings sector-wide, will help you communicate with a far wider audience.

Having gathered and analysed your evidence, make sure to communicate your findings widely. This includes your own trustees as well as other funders / commissioners, partners, and the public. Don’t forget to feed back to the people involved in creating and evidencing your impact – your staff team, grantees and their beneficiaries.

If you’re getting started, begin by considering the best ways to engage key stakeholders. Using different methods to report your findings
might help. Here’s how other funders
have shared their learning.
To improve your practice further, including evidence of your impact in your promotional materials, using local and national networks to spread your findings sector-wide, and even making your data public
will help you communicate with a far wider audience.

When presenting your findings, include details about your methodology - how you collected your evidence, and who you collected it from - so that your audience can assess the strength of your findings. If you struggled to collect data or changed your plans, be open about this too.

If you’re getting started, consider what to include in your report and methodology.
Including details about any evaluation challenges you encountered helps other organisations learn about how best to collect evidence.
To improve your practice, being open about limitations
– e.g. where you don’t have enough data to be able to draw a solid conclusion about your impact – will help your audience understand which findings are most robust.

When presenting your findings, include details about your methodology - how you collected your evidence, and who you collected it from - so that your audience can assess the strength of your findings. If you struggled to collect data or changed your plans, be open about this too.

If you’re getting started, consider what to include in your report and methodology.
Including details about any evaluation challenges you encountered helps other organisations learn about how best to collect evidence.
To improve your practice, clearly separating your presentation of the data itself from your interpretation of it, and being open about limitations
will help your audience to draw conclusions about the strength of your findings.

When presenting your findings, include details about your methodology - how you collected your evidence, and who you collected it from - so that your audience can assess the strength of your findings. If you struggled to collect data or changed your plans, be open about this too.

If you’re getting started, consider what to include in your report and methodology.
Including details about any evaluation challenges you encountered helps other organisations learn about how best to collect evidence. Be open and encourage grantees to do the same.
To improve your practice, clearly separating your presentation of the data itself from your interpretation of it, and being open about limitations
will help your audience to draw conclusions about the strength of your findings.

Using your data to improve your work is the ultimate goal of focusing your impact and completes this cycle of impact practice. This could involve using your findings to make straightforward changes, such as amending your opening hours; or more complex ones, such as trying a new way of working.

If you’re getting started, ensure that your findings come at a useful point in your planning cycle and that they are shared and discussed with the right parts of your organisation to influence decision-making.
To improve your practice, use your findings
about which parts of your work are most effective to adjust your output and outcome targets, and to set targets for future work that are realistic and achievable. You should also use your findings to engage new audiences, communicate with funders and donors, and improve your work.

Once you understand your current level of achievement against your targets, you will be better placed to set realistic targets for future work. Understanding of how and why your work makes a difference, and the pace at which outcomes are achieved, will also help you to set achievable targets.

If you’re getting started, use your findings to review the extent to which you met your output and outcome targets, and to set targets for future work that are realistic and achievable.
To improve your practice further, using your evidence to inform an assessment of your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses can help you to better allocate resources or plan future services, using data to drive change in your organisation.

Once you understand your current level of achievement against your targets, you will be better placed to set realistic targets for future work. Understanding of how and why your work makes a difference, and the pace at which outcomes are achieved, will also help you to set achievable targets.

If you’re getting started, use your findings to review the extent to which you met your targets, and to set priorities for future funding that allow you to focus your funding where it matters most.
To improve your practice further, using your evidence to inform an assessment of the funding programme’s strengths and weaknesses can help you to better allocate resources or plan future programmes, using data to drive change in your organisation.

Reviewing your theory of change document against your findings will help you to refine the way you describe the difference your work makes. This means considering whether your work creates change in the way that you imagined, as well as whether the scale of change you hoped for is realistic.

If you’re getting started, use your findings to check that your theory of change document is accurate and realistic, and to make amends as necessary.
To improve your practice further, use the evidence collected about when changes happen to create a more accurate and realistic timescale of change. You can also review your original assumptions about the resources required for creating change, and refine this area too.

Reviewing your theory of change document against your findings will help you to refine the way you describe the difference your work makes. This means considering whether your work creates change in the way that you imagined, as well as whether the scale of change you hoped for is realistic.

If you’re getting started, use your findings to check that your theory of change document is accurate and realistic, to make amends as necessary, and to adjust your funding strategy and priorities accordingly.
To improve your practice further, use the evidence collected about when changes happen to create a more accurate and realistic timescale of change. You can also review your original assumptions about the resources required for creating change, and refine this area too.

Using your data to improve your work is the ultimate goal of focusing on your impact and completes this cycle of impact practice. This could involve using your findings to make straightforward changes, such as amending your opening hours; or more complex ones, such as trying a new way of working.

If you’re getting started, ensure that your findings come at a useful point in your planning cycle and that they are shared and discussed with the right parts of your organisation to influence decision-making.
To improve your practice, use your findings about which parts of your work are most effective to reallocate resources and to set common standards for practice within your organisation – both good ideas for using your findings to improve your work

Using your data to improve your work is the ultimate goal of focusing your impact and completes this cycle of impact practice. This could involve using your findings to make straightforward changes, such as amending your funding requirements; or more complex ones, such as changing the focus of your funding programme.

If you’re getting started, ensure that your findings come at a useful point in your planning cycle and that they are shared and discussed with the right parts of your organisation to influence decision-making.
To improve your practice, use your findings about which parts of your work are most effective to reallocate resources and to set common standards for practice within your organisation – both good ideas for using your findings to improve your work.

Once you have completed a full impact cycle, there will almost always be things that you would do differently the next time around. Reflecting on how your tools and processes could be improved will help you to save time in the longer term.

If you’re getting started, remember to set aside time at the end of each impact cycle to reflect on how your tools and processes could be improved, and to make changes if necessary.
To improve your practice, gathering feedback from staff and beneficiaries will help you to improve your tools and processes. You can also use your learning to inform your understanding of any resource needs around measuring your impact.

Once you have completed a full impact cycle, there will almost always be things that you would do differently the next time around. Reflecting on your tools and processes (including how you resource and support grantees in their impact practice) will help you to save time in the longer term.

If you’re getting started, reflect on how your tools and processes could be improved, including how you support grantees to measure their impact, and make changes if necessary. A ‘funder plus’ approach
can strengthen beneficiary skills and capacity around evaluation.
To improve your practice further, gather feedback from staff and grantees to improve your tools and processes. You can also use your learning to inform your understanding of any resource needs around measuring your impact or that of your grantees.

Understanding ‘what works’ includes being able to identify what does not work. Communicating honestly and openly about failure, as well as success, will spread the benefit of this learning, helping the sector as a whole to become more successful. It also clearly demonstrates your organisation’s commitment to improving its impact.

If you’re getting started, review whether the way you present your findings is open and honest about failure, acknowledging negative or unplanned outcomes in order to promote learning.
To improve your practice, acknowledging alternative explanations for your organisation’s successes will provide a more balanced account of your impact. Commenting on how your findings tie in with the existing body of evidence will also add value.

Understanding ‘what works’ includes being able to identify what does not work. Communicating honestly and openly about failure, as well as success, will spread the benefit of this learning, helping the sector as a whole to become more successful. It also clearly demonstrates your organisation’s commitment to improving its impact.

If you’re getting started, review whether the way you present your findings is open and honest about failure, acknowledging negative or unplanned outcomes in order to promote learning.
To improve your practice, acknowledging alternative explanations for your successes will provide a more balanced account of your impact. Commenting on how your findings tie in with the existing body of evidence will also add value.

You can go back and forward between sections even if you haven't completed all of the questions

Start a new self-assessment

How to use

Measuring up is simple and straightforward to use.

The self-assessment tool:

  • is best completed by one lead, with input from a range of other people who have different perspectives on your organisation
  • usually takes between 1-2 hours to complete
  • can be carried out at any point in a project or work cycle, to plan for future impact practice or to assess how your impact practice has been so far.

Work through each section in turn, scoring your practice for each indicator. Once all four sections are complete, you can view an automatically generated report with practical recommendations on how to improve.

Each of the indicators in Measuring up comes with a Tool Tip – useful, concise explanations about why each indicator is important. You can view these by clicking on the information icon on each indicator.

Fuller guidance is also available for each of the indicators, to help you get the most out of self-assessment, and this can be accessed at the start of each section. This includes a description of what your practice would have to look like in order to meet the indicator in full, and links to useful resources.

You can add evidence against all of the indicators by clicking on the pencil icon. This allows you to expand on the score you have given.

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Get started with your self-assessment tool

Measuring up is simple and straightforward to use.

The self-assessment tool:

  • is best completed by one lead, with input from a range of other people who have different perspectives on your organisation
  • usually takes between 1-2 hours to complete
  • can be carried out at any point in a project or work cycle, to plan for future impact practice or to assess how your impact practice has been so far.
  • 1-2 hours
  • 20 - 36 questions
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