'Value for Money', Return on Investment', 'Social Value', 'Impact Measurement'. We are surrounded by buzz words and new fads for proving that what we do really is for the social good and really can make a measurable difference. Understanding how to measure impact and then putting in place a cost effective system to do this can seem daunting. There is a useful saying to keep in mind though that provides a great starting point, "What gets measured, matters. So make sure you measure what matters."
Many charities and civil society organisations baulk at having to make more funds available to measure and prove what they already know: that they are making a difference. Yet, measuring impact is a valuable source of management information. Done well, monitoring and evaluation can provide a rich source of beneficiary feedback and programme performance that can also be used to improve your interventions and projects, making them more relevant and likely to deliver lasting change. Building a monitoring and evaluation system is not necessarily a complicated or expensive process, but navigating the various tools and processes sometimes does need a little help.
A good place to start is your current management information system. You already know about the benefits of Salesforce for running your organisation efficiently and collecting fundraising and general management information that helps you to keep an eye on the bottom line. Salesforce can however be more than that. It can help you to make sense of monitoring data, so that you can keep track of the different projects you're running: how many people are being reached, what they think of the projects that they participate in, which projects are on track, which need further attention.
Of course to make this happen for you, two things will need to be in place: an overall monitoring and evaluation plan, including a policy approach to monitoring and evaluation that your organisation is signed up to, secondly a set of relevant data collection tools that capture project performance in both a qualitative and quantitative manner, and which can be linked to Salesforce.
It is important to understand exactly what you want to measure, why you want to measure it and who will use the data in order to design an effective system for data collection and analysis. Understanding this 'what', 'why' and 'who' will start you on the road to effective and efficient monitoring and evaluation, which will make a valuable difference to your organisation.
Developing systems and processes that make charities more effective is a driving focus for us at Shonet and we know that developing and improving your management information systems to include meaningful monitoring and evaluation data, will making proving impact easier and lead to better interventions that can deliver lasting change.
Do you want to improve the data that you are collecting and using? Contact us for a free consultation to find out how we can help you to develop your monitoring and evaluation plan and tools.
This article was written in partnership with Robin Brady