"Why measure impact?" - CEO blog

11 Dec 2015

In our latest blog, our Chief Executive Crispin talks about our new Impact Report...

"It’s always worth starting with the basics when we think about why we do something.  Impact measurement is a great case in point: we need to know that what we do actually works, or what’s the point?  The trouble is that it’s often hard to prove the value of an intervention or an investment, maybe because the benefits are qualitative or because there are so many variables it can be difficult to isolate cause and effect.  Impact measurement can, if we’re not careful, become quite resource-intensive.


"We wouldn’t want impact measurement to become an industry which serves only to create ever more complicated devices for extracting measurements from the unmeasurable… would we?  And we certainly wouldn’t want to be wasting charitable resources on commissioning fancy-looking ways of presenting numbers which are actually pretty simple, or spinning the negative into the positive. 

"No, impact measurement should be kept simple and should serve above all to ensure that the money, time and effort goes to the right places and to the maximum effect.  It should inspire and incentivise giving and investment and it should ensure that the best delivery gets the backing it deserves.

"More controversially – and rarely pointed out – effective demonstration of where delivery works best should also mean a spotlight on those who do it less well.  If you’re using impact to identify and support best practice, once we know what works we need to put all the resources there and, conversely, let the less effective models and organisations go to the wall. Not many charities articulate that when they head off on this journey.
"If I’m a donor, trust funder or investor I’m often at some distance from the front line of delivery.  It’s difficult for me as I scan all the shiny websites and delve into the project reports, to really know where I should put my money to maximum effect - and how I can be sure it will make a difference.  We need a mechanism for doing that and impact measurement can be it.
"Likewise if I’m a frontline charity that really feels it’s turning every penny and every minute of valuable staff and volunteer time, into practical action which changes lives, I need to find a way of telling people.  We want to prove that we’re delivering what it says on the tin, convincing potential supporters that we’re the ones to back with further investment.  Impact measurement needs to do that.
"The CCT has just launched our own Impact Report which shows how the investment we make in historic churches and the communities around them, brings wider benefits to the economy, the environment and to society.  For example our annual conservation programme keeps 70 skilled craftspeople in full time employment. We're quite proud of what we and our many volunteers achieve across our 347 hugely varied sites; I'd love to know what you think.
"Our Regeneration Taskforce is also developing models for impact measurement which can be used by local communities running their own heritage and regeneration projects, including a new 'theory of change' model.  More of this to come..."


-Crispin Truman, Chief Executive