On July 21, 2015 SIMNA WA, in association with the Centre for Social Impact at UWA and Alumni for Social Impact hosted a real-time big screen presentation from Tris Lumley in London to discuss the need for a paradigm shift in the social sector.
Tris is the development director at New Philanthropy Capital, a UK based, charity, think tank and consultancy that works with both charities and funders on their approach to impact, their strategies, theories of change, impact frameworks and measurement.
Tris is also the co-chair of Social Value International and the co-chair of the Impact Measurement Working Group as part of the G8 Social Impact Investment Taskforce and so unsurprisingly he drew a large crowd (60 enthusiasts in Perth – plus people 400k north in Geraldton on web-cam through the Pollinators co-working space).
Tris started by reminding us of the real purpose for impact measurement:
1. Learning, managing and improving
2. Communicating and decision-making
3. Holding ourselves accountable
He then shared highlights from NPCs research in the UK into impact measurement. Encouragingly, the research shows that three quarters of non-profits say they’re measuring impact, however the research also highlights that we are not entirely on the right track with impact measurement:
• It’s not clear we’re learning & improving
• Impact measurement is still largely driven by funders & investors
• It’s unclear if it’s really driving decision-making
• There is a lack of investment in infrastructure & standards
• There is a lack of investment in organisations’ capacity
Following the wrong approach can be dangerous!
In theory, NFPs focus on creating social impact, however in practice they are often too focussed on dollars. Non-strategic funding is leading to non-strategic activity and ultimately a lack of lasting impact. For this reason organisations are developing within a dysfunctional system, with incentives that don’t link to beneficiaries’ real experience.
Organisations are competing, duplicating services, not acting on evidence and putting themselves at the centre rather than the individuals they are trying to help.
Tris challenged us to think about the need to recast impact measurement. Impact measurement should be the thing that fuses together the sides of the organisation delivering on mission and seeking resources to do that.
We need to act together to prevent the sector from being driven by funding and not people, and to stop us becoming an anti-social sector! It will take courage and collaboration but success will come from people, relationships and trust.
To continue this discussion, learn about social impact measurement and build networks with likeminded impact measurement enthusiasts, make sure to join us at our next meet up event which will be held at Bar 399 (Northbridge) on Monday, 17 August from 5.30-7.30pm.
Special thanks to Tris for sharing his wisdom, to the Alumni for Social Impact and CSI UWA for making the night a great success and POWA Institute, SVA, WACOSS, CSI UWA and ANSON for supporting the development of SIMNA WA Chapter.
– The SIMNA WA team