Steven Simpson, Chief Executive, Harborne Parish Lands Charity and Melinda Connelly, Regional Manager, BBC Children in Need shared their approach to and experience of assessing the impact of their grants.
Each is quite different in the size of their grant giving and what they give funding for, and their capacity to monitor and measure impact. With both funders thinking about how to address the impact measurement challenges they and their grantees face, each concluded from very different starting points, that central to their approach is about relationships between funder and grantee and the approach should not be driven by process.
Those who attended also shared their approach currently and their thinking, very much reflecting that this is not a science and funders will want to consider what they want to measure as impact from their grant making and how they will use the information. Whether they were smaller funders or larger funders, interestingly all concluded that relationships with grantees was at the heart of what enabled them to better understand the impact of their grants.
A range of impact assessment tools have been developed to help charities and voluntary organisations and social enterprises to measure their impact. NCVO provides some useful guidance and information and Inspiring Impact also provides some useful resources for both funders and grantees.
There was also a discussion on the data management tools used by those who attended. This ranged from customised client management systems software for larger foundations to paperbased collection of information from end of projects reports. Several of those who attended had considered certain ‘off the shelf’ grant/client management systems software and had concluded that there were pros and cons to those considered. GIFTS and Salesforce were mentioned. There are a whole range of others that exist and a list can be found here.
Without some analysis or review of different software and how that relates to the particular requirements, capacity and needs of foundations it can be a minefield to decide which ones to assess and professional advice should be considered.