Is it reasonable to expect small voluntary organisations to demonstrate their impact? This was a question I was mulling on the train to Cambridge this morning, where I presented at Cambridge CVS‘ AGM. The question is typical of the debate we have in the office. We wouldn’t expect someone opening up a for-profit coffee shop to demonstrate their social impact when applying for a loan from a high street bank (which turns out to be cheaper than social finance, but that’s another blog). And so on – are we expecting too much from small voluntary organisations?
I don’t think that there’s a yes or no answer – but I feel strongly that if we don’t ourselves grasp the nettle of showing that we’re worth it, someone else will read the newspaper saying that we are not. And if we don’t seek to consistently focus on making the biggest difference – rather than just a difference – I think we’re going to struggle in the brave new world of good.
So, I spoke about some challenges and opportunities today in the presentation below. I feel pretty chuffed that a prolific (and serious) social policy blogger, Puffles, thinks I got the challenge about right. I hope he’s right – it’s not always easy to get right, especially as a membership organisation.
Thanks to James Barker, NCVO’s Impact Head Honcho for sharing some of his slides with me. James regularly delivers training on impact and his next course will be running at NCVO on 30 January 2014.
The final slides show some (mostly small) charities who I think are good at communicating their impact – I wanted to end on some inspiration! The great thing about these examples is that they were mostly shared with me on the train on the way to Cambridge. (A former colleague didn’t call me Mr Just In Time for nothing.)
I think our best chance of making a bigger impact is by engaging with our users, supporters and beneficiaries – acting as a network. So, it was great to see NCVO’s network sharing their examples with me. In fact, I ended up being overwhelmed with examples – too many to use in the presentation. It makes me think that if these mostly small organisations can do it, so can others. So maybe we aren’t expecting too much. What do you think?
Here’s what our network said were some small organisations with a big impact
These were suggested by Dave Kane: Mexborough & Swinton Astronomical Society and Aberdeen Strathspey & Reel Society. As ICAEW award winners they’re clearly going to be good.
— David Kane (@kanedr) November 12, 2013
I like this: Greener Leith
— Lilly Hunter (@LillyLyle) November 12, 2013
The NOW project: the impact card on the right is brilliant. By the way, this was attached as as evidence of their impact in a tweet.
— Maeve Monaghan (@maevemonaghan) November 12, 2013
— Angela Kail (@angiekail) November 12, 2013
— Steph Moon (@stephaniejmoon) November 12, 2013
Their impact in a tweet was:
@karlwilding we see importance of building solid rel'ship as key to +ve movement with rough sleepers.It's about time not targets!
— Simon on the Streets (@simonotstreets) November 12, 2013
— zoe amar (@zoeamar) November 12, 2013
They summed up their impact in a couple of tweets for me:
— Child's i Foundation (@childsi) November 12, 2013
— Kirsty (@kirsty) November 13, 2013
CALM have been shortlisted for, or won, numerous impact awards. Possibly more loud than calm though 😉
— Heidi Steel (@HeidiCSteel) November 12, 2013
Here’s Mary Ward Legal Centre’s 2012 impact report, which uses case studies really well.
@karlwilding "Within a few weeks of contacting Mary Ward Legal Centre I went from a place of no hope to getting a resolution." client quote
— Paul Treloar (@PaulieTandoori) November 12, 2013
And here’s School Food Matters, which again goes beyond numbers in thinking about impact:
— Ossie Gray (@ozedbar) November 12, 2013
@karlwilding We moved 30 schools from frozen readymeals to high quality freshly prepared lunches. Take up doubled. Meal price came down!
— School Food Matters (@sfmtweet) November 13, 2013
MAC UK is another impact award winner:
— Rosie Ferguson (@Rosie_Ferg) November 12, 2013
The Prison Advice and Care Trust communicates very well via its impact report:
— Sarah Billiald (@sbilliald) November 12, 2013
I’m afraid that until today, I’d never heard of Riders for Health…but as a motorcyclist how could I not like this? Effective, simple infographics tell a great story:
— Benjamin Brown (@BennyArkhive) November 12, 2013
Interval House from Toronto have a must-see impact report. I like that it includes a visit from the Easter Bunny…
— John Lepp (@johnlepp) November 12, 2013
And finally (for now!), the Microloan Foundation, which uses case studies to demonstrate impact:
@karlwilding We empower women in Africa to work their way out of poverty thru giving loans&training to set up businesses.Hope not handouts.
— MicroLoan Foundation (@MicroLoan) November 12, 2013
Postscript: late additions I really like:
— Youth Music (@youthmusic) November 14, 2013