GuideStar UK seeks partners to trial impact-measurement plan

Project would allow charities to compare performance and improve efficiency

Charity information service GuideStar UK is looking for partners to help it develop a comprehensive impact-reporting and benchmarking system.

Les Hems, director of third sector data and analysis at GuideStar UK, is seeking funding to run a pilot benchmarking project that would enable third sector organisations to compare performance and improve efficiency.

Hems aims to divide third sector organisations into categories using criteria such as objectives, geographical location, assets, size, income streams and staff profiles, and to provide data based on a number of metrics.

"We'd like to run a pilot scheme with a small, sub-sector umbrella organisation," he said. "We'd collect data from their members. If that worked, we'd expand the concept to other sub-sectors."

He said the system, which organisations would have to pay for, would let charities compare themselves with other organisations and make judgements about where they could improve efficiency.

"You could compare yourself to other campaigning organisations, or other organisations in the same region, or other organisations with incomes of more than £2m, or all of those, and measure your comparative fundraising ratios or staff costs," he said.

"The system would allow organisations to report on their impact in a more meaningful way and enable funders to target the organisations where they could do the most good for charities. Too much social return on investment tends to be judged on a case-by-case basis. We would like to change that by developing standards by which the entire market can be judged."

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