Impact round-up: September 2019

Welcome to our September impact round-up. Each month at NCVO Charities Evaluation Services we summarise the latest news in impact and evaluation and share useful guides, resources and data collection tools.

Impact reports that make an impact

We’ve been impressed by two impact reports that came out this summer. The Children’s Society’s 2019 report is clearly structured, visually interesting and combines numbers and stories brilliantly. This really helps bring their work and their outcomes to life. The case studies of specific projects really help to illustrate the difference that the Children’s Society makes to children and young people in a wide range of circumstances.

We were also impressed by AoC Sport’s impact report about the opportunities they provide for young people in further education to be more physically active. Their evidence includes photographs and social media as well as surveys, interviews and monitoring data. It really foregrounds the young people’s voices while demonstrating clear links to the organisation’s strategy.

If you want to find out more about how to create impact reports that not only look good but are also useful for decision-making, have a look at our resources on reporting evaluation findings, using creative reporting formats and telling your impact story.

More on ‘grants plus’ – the Lloyds Bank Foundation shares learning

NCVO’s Head of Excellence, Trish Kiss, attended an event this month at the Lloyds Bank Foundation. The event shared learning about Lloyds’ experience of working on ‘grants plus’ projects with grantees to build their organisational capacity. Here are some key findings:

  • The relationship between grantee and grant manager needs to transcend the power dynamic. Only with trust on both sides can grantees be honest about what they need, and what they have capacity to take on.
  • Peer support for leaders, especially CEO’s, is crucial. It’s lonely at the top, so opportunities for senior executives to come together and have some time away from firefighting are essential.
  • Projects are not always completed, for a variety of reasons, so it’s important that the projects are designed to up-skill staff at the grantee organisations and make sure that learning remains within the organisation.
  • Understanding the long term impact remains a challenge – projects are rarely monitored beyond the grant period. They know if immediate outcomes were achieved but not whether this had a long term effect.

The impact of advocacy

Our colleagues at Bond held a conference earlier this year on ‘Claiming the impact of our advocacy.’ The conference explored the difficulty of demonstrating when and how advocacy and influencing work had made a difference to government policy. Following on from the conference, Tearfund have opened up how they are reviewing their evaluation of advocacy work. Through building a more robust structure for evaluation, staff have looked at things differently and asked more challenging questions about their impact and its measurement.

On the blogs and social media

The Australian Evaluation Society’s conference has just finished. Entitled ‘Evaluation un-boxed,’ it seems to have focused on more participatory approaches to evaluation and on disrupting, or subverting, existing power relations. No blogs yet, but lots of food for thought on the Twitter hashtag #aes19SYD.

Continuing the disruptive theme, Zenda Ofir’s recent blog outlines the first five of ‘ten essential competencies for post-normal evaluation.’

We haven’t featured Ann K Emery for a while. Our favourite data visualisation expert has a guest blog on how one organisation redesigned their reports to be much more user-friendly. There are lots of reporting and data visualisation tips elsewhere on her website.

Training and events

NCVO provides training and events covering a range of topics, from impact to governance, volunteer management and data protection reform – with discounts for NCVO members (Not a member? Find out more).

Here’s what’s coming up:

Outcome and impact measurement (1 day): 8 October

Developing your theory of change: 29 October

How to collect outcome and impact data: 12 November

How to report on your outcome and impact data: 27 November

We can also come to you! Our courses can be delivered at your venue, providing an affordable way to train groups of staff, trustees or volunteers. Contact us for more information.


NVCO/Bates Wells Trustee Conference 2019


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Amira is a senior consultant at NCVO Charities Evaluation Services working across projects including delivering open and in-house training, supporting clients to build their evaluation capacity, conducting external evaluations, and supporting clients with strategy development.

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