The toolbox set to democratise charity impact
31 October 2019 at 8:02 am
A free resource will give NFPs tools to measure their social impact
For smaller charities, properly measuring impact is something they often can’t afford. But the release of a free online toolbox might change this.
Launched by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Community Sector Banking (CSB) last week, the toolbox is a suite of tools and training modules to help charities evaluate the social impact of their programs.
Associate Professor Bronwen Dalton, director of the UTS master of not-for-profit and social enterprise management, told Pro Bono News smaller NFPs were often locked out of funding conversations because they didn’t have the resources to measure impact.
“We really think that small and medium NFPs have an enormous impact and we would not want to see their funding levels harmed simply because they cannot afford to demonstrate their work,” Dalton said.
She said the resource wasn’t just about helping charities impress funders, but helping charities build their skills and knowledge around what good evaluation looked like and what the best way to achieve real impact was.
“It means they will be in a position to know what quality looks like, and even if they do engage external consultants to measure their impact, they will know what to look for,” she said.
Over the last two years, UTS and CSB worked closely with small and medium charities such as the Sydney Street Choir to trial different resources to help measure impact.
The choir used standardised surveys offered as part of the toolbox to help measure the physical and mental health of participants, with a focus on their wellbeing, how socially included they felt, and help-seeking behaviour.
Equipped with baseline data, the charity will survey choir members 12 months from now to see how much of an impact the program is having.
“By democratising the access to all those questionnaires they will now be able to measure their impact, when they probably couldn’t have done before,” Dalton said.
Andrew Cairns, the CEO of CSB, said for Australian not-for-profits to thrive in the 21st century they needed the tools to demonstrate the impact of their work to prospective funders.
“We are always looking for opportunities to move beyond offering grants to a small number of deserving not for profits, and with this investment we believe there is the potential to create long-term benefits for civil society as a whole,” Cairns said.