The government’s main role in the impact measurement agenda for charities should be getting its commissioning structures right, according to Gareth Davies, head of the Office for Civil Society.
Speaking at an event last night to launch the Inspiring Impact Group, which has been set up to improve impact measurement over the next 10 years, Davies said the government should not be dictating the right way of measuring impact.
"I’m keen to get involved and put some public money in to get this going and capitalise it, but really it’s about what works for you – what works for your funders, what works for you as philanthropists, what works for you as social investors," he said.
"Where government comes in is thinking about how we can get our commissioning structures right – which, frankly, is a big problem in Whitehall."
He said that if the sector got impact measurement right, government could learn from it in terms of tackling commissioning rather than the other way round.
Julian Corner, chief executive of the Lankelly Chase Foundation, who was in the audience, asked whether a disproportionate emphasis was being put on the voluntary sector proving its effective use of the "quite a small amount of money" society gave to it.
He asked whether in doing so the government was being "let off the hook", because it did not have to prove the effectiveness of most of the money it spent.
Davies said that of more than £700bn spent annually by government, only 5 to 10 per cent was subject to analysis and required to produce evidence of effectiveness, "so you’re quite right to put the emphasis back on us".