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New tool launches to equalise the sector

16 March 2022 at 4:40 pm
Maggie Coggan
It’s hoped the new tool will enable for-purpose organisations to focus on delivering services rather than using internal resources or paying to outsource research 

Maggie Coggan | 16 March 2022 at 4:40 pm


New tool launches to equalise the sector
16 March 2022 at 4:40 pm

It’s hoped the new tool will enable for-purpose organisations to focus on delivering services rather than using internal resources or paying to outsource research 

Resource-scarce not for profits are being given access to a free tool that measures social impact, saving organisations up to $90,000 per reporting project. 

Launched on Wednesday, the Amplify Social Impact Online (Amplify Online) project is the first consistent, evidence-backed and free-to-use impact measurement tool for the Australian for-purpose sector. 

The tool was developed over three years by researchers at the Centre for Social Impact (CSI), and is estimated to save the social purpose sector around $300 million every year.  

Social impact organisations are increasingly being asked to show evidence and demonstrate accountability for their work, however figuring out what (outcomes) and how (indicators) to measure remains an arduous and resource-intensive task. The Indicator Engine – the first part of the Amplify Online platform to be launched – seeks to remedy this.

It guides organisations to validated and reliable measures that can determine whether they are making the impact they intend to. All users need to do is provide basic information about their program or project and they are then supported from start to finish in identifying the most suitable outcomes and indicators to measure in survey format.  

For example, a social housing organisation might want to collect data on the people who have been housed by the organisation and the impact that’s had on their lives. The organisation can use Amplify Online by inputting text to describe the program, which will then direct them to a whole range of research tools such as surveys or questionnaires.

Organisations wanting to create a questionnaire can use Amplify Online to find applicable questions that align with their goals and have been proven to uncover social impact.

The platform can also be used by organisations to measure a range of social outcomes such as financial stress, standard of living, mental health, or disaster preparedness, among their clients, staff, or broader stakeholders.

Associate Professor Graham Brown, the director of the Centre for Social Impact at UNSW, told Pro Bono News that these well-developed and validated questions that Amplify Online will provide for-purpose organisations were often hidden away in places that may never be discovered.  

“So many of those questions are hidden away in academic journals and so forth,” Brown said. 

“What we wanted to do was be able to get all of that knowledge and expertise into something that’s really accessible and embedded in a single platform.” 

He said that it has been an ongoing issue in the for-purpose space that organisations spend a lot of resources and time collecting and analysing data instead of actually responding to the results of the data. 

“It’s really about bringing equity in the valuation across the whole sector. A lot of organisations have the capacity to do a valuation, but aren’t always asking the right questions,” he said. 

“On the other side of that, there’s a lot of organisations that just do not have that capacity, and so no evaluation happens.” 

Tim Buskens, CEO of HOPE Housing – a not-for-profit initiative that assists essential service workers to buy a home – said that he saw Amplify Online tool as a core part of their impact measurement program. 

“As an impact investment initiative, it’s incredibly important for us to demonstrate our social outcomes,” Buskens said. 

“Amplify Online also gives us valuable insight on how we can improve our offering for the benefit of the communities we serve – which for us is all about housing our essential frontline workers.” 

The next phase of the Amplify Social Impact platform, Yardstick, is currently under construction and will offer automated statistical analysis of the data collected.

Find out more about the program here. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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