28 March 2017, TDi Melbourne
Data and storytelling were key themes from this event. On data, recognition that there is more of it than ever before and the sector must continue investing in developing capacity here. Key issues included client management databases, data integrity, analytics and business intelligence, and visualisation. On storytelling: the relationship between data and stories, micro-documentaries, authenticity in storytelling and donor and participant appetite for communicating your impact.
SIMNA Director Russ Wood opened proceedings to a sold out crowd at The Difference Incubator, Bourke Street, along with SIMNA National Chair Simon Faivel and SIMNA Victoria Steering Committee Member and SocialSuite Customer Relationship Manager, Maya Romic.
The first SIMNA VIC event of the year, this event explored innovation and trends within social impact measurement, and was sponsored by SocialSuite (www.socialsuite.com.au).
Paul Villanti – Executive Director Programs, Movember described the start of their impact measurement journey in 2007. Prior to this, Movember had primarily undertaken activity based measurement in conjunction with delivery partners. The focus was to implement an outcomes measurement framework across all projects where a large number of partners where involved. At this time there was a vast range of approaches to measurement being implemented, right across the network, which was a challenge in terms of understanding and measuring change.
A key strategy was to implement initiatives to standardise measurement, with a focus on prostate cancer, where leading international medical experts worked collaboratively to develop a consistent method that was then mandated across all Movember’s projects.
Over the past 4-5 years, Movember have established an evaluation team to work alongside project teams to embed and improve measurement and provide robust evaluation. This has been a much more effective model to leverage the power of innovation in community with the support of academics.
Paul highlighted that Movember have experienced a significant growth in interest from donors on the outcomes of their contribution and the difference it had made. Traditionally much of Movember’s donor communication approach was based on the idea of “having fun and doing good”, publishing reports on activities for transparency but this trend indicates an increase in interest requiring greater investment for evaluation and targeted communication back to donors.
Whats next for Movember: Just under 6 million participants want to have a better understanding of how they are helping, so its about balancing saturating the network with content and satisfying the interest in outcomes.
You can find out more about Movember here: https://au.movember.com/
Jon Staley – General Manager – Youthworx described the organisation’s mission to work with marginalized young people using a transformative approach that engages young people in education or employment. Youthworx believes in creativity being key to engagement and this has driven the collaborative, immersive model used since it’s founding in 2009.
Youthworx employ a number of young people to work with clients on producing content for a range of organisations, government and businesses.
Echoing Movember’s experience around consumer’s growing interest in the difference made by their contributions;
“we are at a point now when people want the stories to be humanised… where people’s money is going and the difference that has made”.
Jon articulates that film is naturally the most conducive way to respond to the growing interest. This trend is set to continue to with microdocumentaries- extremely powerful ways to tell these stories, driving the communication of impact in the most significant, interesting way.
“Storytelling has to work in tandem with measurement and data capture, honoring the real guts of the story in an authentic and honest way. Its important not to lose the authenticity if you are making claims”.
Jen Riley – Founder of Navigating Outcomes & SIMNA Victoria recently shared a blog post highlighting the top 5 trends in social impact measurement (https://navigatingoutcomes.com.au/2017/02/03/top-five-trends-in-social-impact-measurement-in-2017/) expanding on this within her presentation. Jen outlined the 5 trends for 2017 as;
1. Big data
2. Data science and business intelligence
3. Learning systems
4. Evaluating complexity
5. Convergence of design and evaluation
“Data is coming at us in at speed we have not experienced before” with the internet of things connecting and expanding data with unprecedented velocity. This voracity is concerning because of the uncertainty of the impact of this new landscape.
Jen described data science as bringing together algorithms, data and impacts in a way that leverages the insights from these channels to provide unprecedented visibility around change. Jen also discussed the emergent opportunity for data scientists within the for-purpose sector, using their expertise to unlock the potential from big data and bringing disparate data sets together.
A continuing trend includes data visualisation, which communicates and makes sense of the mass of information becoming available and the stories that this data can reveal.
Similarly, organisations should be engaging business intelligence processes, strategy, tools and applications to make sense of the multiple types of data that is available and using these for more accurate decision making and strategizing.
Jen identified a significant trend that recognizes that service providers are starting to understand that we can only see the difference we make after an intervention- where historically we have tried to have evaluators embedded in a program from the very start. This perspective allows us to observe change through a post and pre support focus, where measurement methodologies like “most significant change” could be utilised.
You can get in touch with Jen here: https://navigatingoutcomes.com.au/
Finally, the expert panel fielded questions from attendees after the room broke into groups to reflect and explore feedback from the presenters. Key themes from the audience around social impact trends for 2017 included;
- A desire for greater sharing of sector experience of measurement- “war stories” (I’d definitely encourage you to join SIMNA and visit www.simna.com.au for upcoming events across Australia and membership details)
- Proliferation of technology- like mobile phones, even in developing countries, gives organisations an access point to connect
- Learning from what went wrong
- Getting staff on-board: Rather than staff feeling like they are being audited when the evaluator turns up, it is critical to communicate that it is “bigger than a performance indicator set”- measurement is truly about improving client’s lives
- Heavy investment within customer relationship management (CRM) to improve data collection
- Increasing expectations that data backs up claims of change, scrutiny of claims without base and participants and donors moving away from organisations who cant substantiate story-telling and reporting
- Increase of human centred design within measurement- including understanding outliers.
My thanks to Paul, Jon and Jen for sharing their expertise and to Maya and the fantastic team at SocialSuite for bringing this event to life!
Feel free to get in touch if you want to hear more about attending or sponsoring upcoming SIMNA events, and I encourage you to contribute your thoughts about trends in social impact for 2017 in the comments section.