Many charities do not have the resources to carry out complex impact measurements, such as a social return on investment assessment, and should use simpler tools instead, according to a guide published this week.
Nicky Stevenson, principal consultant at The Guild, a specialist third sector consultancy that will this week publish Getting Started in Social Impact Measurement, said research carried out by her organisation and Middlesex University found that many charities had difficulty identifying the best impact measurement tools.
"You have to think about what you want this data for," said Stevenson. "Do you want it to make your own processes more efficient, because you want to market yourselves or because you've been asked to do it? And you have to think about cost.
"SROI is very useful for tendering, but expensive. Many organisations have been able to use it only because they received help. Others have used parts of the SROI assessment they can carry out themselves. Small organisations can pick and mix the tools that are most practical."
According to Stevenson, impact measurement is likely to grow in importance because more government agencies have an interest in it.