Boncerto associate David Van Eeghen shares why impact evaluation is important and how your organisation can benefit
Impact evaluation is good for two related reasons. Firstly, for delivery organisations, it forms part of the intelligence necessary to evolve the most effective service possible; and secondly, for potential supporters it provides the information they need when deciding where to put their money.
This can be brought together in one sentence: Impact evaluation illustrates the value of an organisation’s activity to key stakeholders and the wider population.
For organisations looking to raise money, either through bidding for investment, commissioning contracts or sourcing donations, it is getting harder and harder to stand out from the crowd, especially in a manner that is both informative and authentic.
The options for potential investors, commissioners and donors are sourced from a global market and the issues being tackled are manifold. For an investor or a donor looking at not-for-profits or organisations to support at an early stage, the financials are of secondary importance beyond being an indicator that the senior leadership team are responsible, organised and accountable.
So you might ask what are potential supporters looking for? They normally have a focus of interest, for example a particular condition, geographical area or age group. Potential supporters want to see where they have the biggest difference to this focused interest.
This is the point of an Impact Evaluation, which showcases the value and detail of a social programme, its potential for scale and allows for comparison between different projects working in similar arenas.
Take, for example, choosing how to support the eradication of the Zika Virus. As a supporter of this cause you may choose one of many different options available to you:
Mosquito net distribution
Land drainage improvements
Natural predator promotion
House building to move the population away from high-risk areas
Educating populations to boost their social mobility and find their own answers
It is no longer enough to present an emotional case study, look to funders deeply in the eyes and say “trust us, we are nice people”.
How does a supporter compare one option with another? Do they want to stop 10 people being affected for the next 30 days? Or five people a month for the next year? What if there are side effects that are not acceptable to the potential supporter? Do any of these actually make a difference? By how much? Over how long? What is being done already? Are there other benefits or costs associated with each option?
These are questions examined and answered by a thorough impact evaluation.
A thorough Impact Evaluation will deliver a clear picture of the issue being tackled, including who, where and what; the means and mechanisms and time scale necessary to deliver the solution; a clear scenario for success and management metrics; and finally how successful the solution has been relative to both no solution delivered or alternative options.
This is what potential supporters are looking for. A good impact evaluation provides the information they need to decide on where to put their money; it gives the organisation a clear vision of how the actual delivery of the service compares to the plan; a good impact evaluation collates the organisational learning and provides a model that can be evolved and shared; it identifies the value delivered to both the target groups and wider society.
David Van Eeghen is a Boncerto Associate and our resident expert on impact. Drop us a line to learn more about his work and how impact can help your organisation.
You can also download David Van Eeghan's presentation a Guide to Impact Evaluation in the link below.