Empowered through robust impact measurement

When she set up Empower – Be the Change, a social enterprise in Wales in 2016, Jo Clay knew it was important to get impact measurement right from the start. Measuring the Good matched her with a mentor who became a great sounding board and helped her get the right metrics in place early on, enabling the organisation to secure an interest-free loan. In this blog, Jo shares her experience of Measuring the Good.

I set up Empower – Be the Change to help young and unemployed people to realise their own potential. The organisation was less than a year old when I came across the Measuring the Good programme, but I knew that it was important to have measurement in place from the start. I’m the only staff member, I love my job but it can sometimes be lonely – the opportunity to work with someone who I could bounce ideas off and help me to get measurement up and running seemed like a good thing to do. It is great seeing the difference our programme makes to people’s self-belief and confidence but we need to prove our results in order to secure funding and grow our work.

I traveled down to London to meet Payal, our volunteer face to face – when we couldn’t meet in person we had phone and Skype meetings. Working with Payal didn’t feel like working with a consultant. She took a much more personal and very practical approach. We work in very different sectors but this didn’t matter at all. Other consultants had simply told us what we already knew, but Payal got really involved. The programme was more than just a review, it gave us something really useful at the end.

Having an outside view really helped us to ensure that we were measuring the right things and made the process much more refined. We now have really robust measures in place and these are included in every grant application and application for investment.

We’ve now been collecting data for 6 months, looking at the findings helped us to identify our strengths and focus on where we’ll look for investment. We no longer chase every kind of funding but target funds that support the areas where we are really strong. We now have clear ideas about how many people we will be able to work with and what difference our work will make. Because we’re more focused, we’ve been able to make sure that the quality of information is there and that we have proven results. Even after this short time we’re finding that we are getting a lot more ‘yeses’ than ‘nos’ to our grant applications. We’ve secured a £30k interest free loan which has been fantastic.

With this new funding we’ve been able to significantly grow our work – we’ve delivered more programmes in the last six months than in the previous twelve months, so we’ve more than doubled. We plan to produce impact reports or short videos and case studies to help investors understand our impact. Having the right measures in place was vital for putting these together and having both in-depth anecdotal comment as well as robust tangible measures. I’m going to a training session on impact measures soon and will be keen to share what we’ve done so far with others there.

Even for a tiny organisation it’s definitely worth taking part – the sooner you start collecting the right data the better! When you’re setting up you are stretched in so many different directions – it might seem like this is a big commitment, but in the long term it saves you time. In our case it’s helped us to win funding that’s been crucial for our expansion.

We’re still in touch with Payal. I think the programme worked well because Measuring the Good matched us with a volunteer who was genuinely interested in what we were doing. It’s been good to check in with her and look back on how far we’ve come in 18 months, sometimes you’re so immersed in day to day that you forget to look up and acknowledge that it’s going in the right direction.

If you think your organisation could benefit from Measuring the Good or would simply like to find out more, please get in touch as we would love to hear from you.