Measuring the Good Case study: Young Urban Arts Foundation

“I enjoyed my match with YUAF, and it was wonderful working with Debbie and Kerry,” Joanna Tam, volunteer

Joanna made it very easy to work together, communicated so well, shared her valuable experience and tools with us,Debbie Mason, YUAF


Number of staff:         2

Cause:                         Disadvantaged young people

Location:                     London

Annual turnover:        £193,189

Website:                      www.yuaf.org.uk

Young Urban Arts Foundation (YUAF) offers creative outreach programmes, through a variety of channels including a “media bus” which goes into communities to deliver music and creative arts workshops.

Their aims are: to keep young people safe by engaging them in positive activities; to improve mental wellbeing by raising confidence, aspirations and happiness through creativity; to teach creative skills and nurture creative talent.  They also signpost young people into further progression routes e.g. education, training, volunteering and leadership, and improve transferable skills such as communication, teamwork and leadership.

Joanna is a designated Chartered Professional Accountant and Chartered Accountant (CPA, CA), and has an MBA with Distinction from University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, as well as a Master of Accounting (MAcc) and Bachelor of Accounting and Financial Management (BAFM) from the University of Waterloo.  She has volunteered with a number of charities, and is passionate about social investments’ role in helping arts and culture organisations thrive and in supporting better mental health.   She particularly wanted to learn more about the impact of an arts and culture or youth related organisation, as well as challenges they might face in funding or operations, so the match with YUAF fitted her well.

Organisation’s Challenge

Kerry, founder and CEO of YUAF, explained that they often do not see young people in a consistent way – they are in and out due to the nature of provision (outreach, on the street), or their own lives mean they cannot attend consistently. This makes gathering feedback hard – for example they may have only one half of a baseline survey.  They are not always able to check up on young people 6 months or so later, so they needed to find other ways to measure impact.  Also, the outcomes YUAF wanted to measure are difficult to quantify, eg improvement to mental health, or improvement in relationships.

What YUAF wanted to get out of the project was a streamlined set of monitoring methods and supporting paperwork, underpinned by a strong methodology, so they could gather data for funders, brand partners, sponsors.  This would allow them to tell the story of the amazing work which they knew was happening.

The Process

To start with Kerry explained they were using a number of impact measurement methods, but needed to improve the effectiveness of collecting quantitative data in particular.  They needed help with measuring soft outcomes such as confidence and happiness.  They had looked at the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and social value calculator as tools but needed help using them.

Joanna was immediately impressed by the dedication of the YUAF staff to their work, and the young people they supported.  They used the Measuring the Good handbook to frame each of their sessions together: it guided their discussion topics, action points, homework, as well as goals for future meetings.   Joanna said: “It was a helpful tool to ensure we kept on track, and allowed us to hone in one particular task I could support YUAF with during my time with them”. 

Joanna helped them develop a Theory of Change for a new programme, which was to be proposed to a key funder for this programme.   She also helped direct Debbie and Kerry to other resources around impact measurement, digital feedback tools, and discussed potential data management solutions for the team in the future.

The Outputs and Immediate Outcomes

In April 2020, Debbie said: “We still need to implement a lot of what we have discussed, and with the current UK lockdown all face to face engagement has stopped. Additionally, Jo worked on developing the impact measurement for a programme which is still in the planning stages so we have yet to put that into action. But we now have a clear Theory of Change underlying the project, putting us on a strong footing.”

The Future

In January 2021, Debbie said: “Following the coronavirus pandemic YUAF shifted our work online, engaging young people with a version of the ‘Amplified’ project which Joanna helped us begin to develop. We were able to draw upon the Theory of Change she developed to help us think about the monitoring and evaluation of this new covid-response project. This was particularly helpful in terms of considering the outputs and outcomes we could expect, and how to measure those. We developed digital monitoring tools, drawing on Joanna’s feedback on our previous baseline and feedback surveys, and over 2020 we collected a good range of data which has helped us to gain further funding to continue the programme as we head into the third UK lockdown. The next step for us will be to develop our online programme further, incorporating more elements of our original ‘Amplified’ proposal which Joanna worked on, so we will continue to benefit from the work that she has done with us.”