Top Ten Tips for Measuring Your Impact
These tips were created by Kelly-Anne Collins as part of the Inspiring Impact project delivered by the Arts Collaboration Network in 2016-17. These tips were developed as part of her work on the Theory of Change which looks at evidencing both impact and 'why change happens'.
During the project six cultural organisations, including thrive, collaborated to create their own ways to measure and evidence their impact – looking at outcomes, indicators, and how to tell their story. They used a range of tools including the Theory of Change, logic models and outcomes based planning.
1. Forget perfection.
There is no perfect way to measure your impact. It is the thinking, discussing and challenging throughout the process that makes it worthwhile.
2. Embrace the trickiness.
It is easy to talk about what it is that you do (your outputs) but to truly articulate the difference that you can make (your impact) is very tricky. If it feels hard that is a good thing.
Don’t work in isolation. You have your Board and Staff but a critical and supportive outside eye that you trust is really useful. Get them to ask you challenging questions and let you know what they don’t understand.
4. Think about who you're trying to impact.
To help with understanding the difference you are trying to make, think about specifically you are trying to make a difference with. Who are your constituency? Who are your stakeholders?
5. Ask questions.
When thinking about the difference that you want to make, take the time to question the ideas and assumptions behind it. Ask yourself questions in different ways to make sure that your activities fit with your aspirations (Outcomes/Impact).
6. Focus on yourself - not funders.
Don’t measure your impact based on what a funder or anyone might think should be in there. You can add the ‘right’ language at the end. This is an internal document to help you get to the essence of the difference that you make.
7. Get commitment from yourself and others.
Commitment to the process will be important. Ask yourself what you are willing to commit as an individual and as an organisation. Involve Staff/Board/Volunteers to help and understand what you need them to do.
8. Think creatively.
Try to think about different ways to evidence your impact rather than always using surveys. Look and ask around for what others do.
9. Simplify the language.
The language can be confusing but don’t overthink it. Goal/s = Long Term Vision, Impact = Difference made in 3 to 5 years, Outcomes = Difference made in 12 months.
10. Ask for help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Others on the same journey will often be happy to challenge you, support you and talk through your questions when you don’t understand.