Charities should adopt shared methods of measuring impact and thus develop a common understanding of how to address social problems, according to a report by New Philanthropy Capital.
The report, Blueprint for Shared Measurement, published today, encourages charities and social enterprises that are working towards similar goals to collaborate and avoid duplication in the way they measure the outcomes of their interventions.
It has been published as part of the Inspiring Impact programme. Inspiring Impact was set up by a group of eight organisations, including NPC and the umbrella bodies Acevo and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, to make high-quality impact measurement common practice among charities and social enterprises by 2022.
The report calls on charities to consider teaming up with other charities in their cause areas to develop shared approaches. It urges funders to develop shared measurement approaches and thus avoid duplication in reporting.
It defines the concept of "shared measurement" as a way of understanding a sector’s shared outcomes and outlining its vision for change.
The report says that important factors in successful shared measurement approaches include initial and long-term funding, the engagement of diverse stakeholders, strong and independent leaders and technology that makes measurement tools user-friendly and accessible.
Eibhlín Ní Ógáin, the NPC consultant who wrote the report, said it was essential that measurement tools used common measures that were meaningful and relevant to the organisations using them.
"Most complex social issues, such as homelessness or antisocial behaviour, cannot be solved by one initiative working in isolation," she said. "Instead, we find an ecosystem of organisations operating in a particular field, contributing to shared aims.
"However, impact measurement in this context is all too often not carried out in a consistent and comparable way, preventing us from seeing if positive change has occurred and learning about which approaches work best."