Impact Matters: saying you create impact and showing it are two different things
15th July 2022
WELCOME TO OUR GUEST BLOG FROM HEIDI FISHER MBE
Heidi is Founder of award-winning social enterprise, Make An Impact CIC
BSSEC CIC is committed to, and working on, the growth of the West Midlands social economy from £3.5 billion to £7 billion over the next 10 years… an ambitious target. Through our relationship with West Midlands Combined Authority, we know there are many opportunities for stakeholder engagement, developing eco-systems, enabling social enterprises and creating the environment(s) for business and communities to thrive. But how will we know what success looks like?
We asked Heidi, a reknowned expert in the field of impact measurement, to share her perspective on the importance, methodology and benefits of evidencing social impact.
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Your impact story is what gives you a competitive edge. It is why people know, like and trust you (yeah, impact is very much connected to marketing) – and your impact is one of the things that can influence people as they make the decision to buy from you.
That’s because, saying you create impact and showing it are two different things.
If you want to build trust, you need to demonstrate your impact.
And that’s about evidencing of the difference you make to peoples’ lives, the economy, the community and the environment.
Your impact story done right creates opportunities to grow your income, including through winning public sector contracts, as you’ll be able to evidence how you achieve social value priorities* and score higher on tenders.
West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) are encouraging all regional public sector bodies and publicly funded projects to spend at least 5% of their commissioning and procurement budget with Voluntary Community Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations**, and increasingly across the public sector, 10% of tender scores are for how you deliver social value^.
To evidence and report your impact you’ll need:
- Engagement data – who is/is not engaging with your organisation?
- Output data – how many people did you work with? How many sessions did you deliver? How many products did you sell?
- Outcomes and Impact data – what difference have you made?
- Feedback – what worked/what didn’t and what people want to see in future.
- Case studies – the stories of the clients you work with, highlighting their journey. This covers their situation before, what activities you’ve provided and their situation now. These supplement the outcomes and impact data you’ve captured.
But wait, measuring outcomes and impact is complicated, confusing and time consuming right?
Wrong! To evidence your outcomes and impact try this:
- Keep your impact measurement lean – we advocate a Lean Social Impact Approach™^^ where you focus on measuring key outcomes only.
- See every contact point with your clients as an opportunity to capture impact data.
- Build data collection into your day-to-day processes and activities.
- Data collection doesn’t mean surveys – be creative and use games, graffiti walls, images, videos etc.
Once you’ve got the data don’t forget to share your impact creatively – use infographics, summary reports, videos and more. There are a few examples to inspire you in Notes below.
And here’s proof that evidencing your impact does lead to growth in income:
“Make an Impact CIC have helped us to compile Social Impact Reports to demonstrate the benefits of the support we offer to parents who are struggling to communicate following separation or going through divorce.
The Social Impact Reports have been instrumental in us demonstrating positive outcomes for both children and adults, alongside the savings for public sector services.
This has enabled to us contract our services with Local Authorities and other public sector services. We have also been able access funding through the National Lottery.”
Kam Kaur, Parenting Apart Programme Ltd.
And finally, use your impact data to learn and continually improve what you do.
Not sure on the terminology used in this article? Check out our social value dictionary.
Heidi Fisher MBE
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**Growing the social economy in the WMCA area (June 2021)
^Procurement Policy Note 06/20 (September 2020) and the NHS guidance issued earlier this year on their plans to implement this across the NHS and its supply chain: Applying net zero and social value in the procurement of NHS goods and services (March 2022)