Truly understanding charities' social impact will help them to develop a sustainable growth strategy

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Charities and social enterprises in the UK make a difference to millions of lives here and around the world. They play a vital role for the communities they support and have an impact on society from the way that they deliver their products
or services to the way they operate within the community.

But how do they measure the difference they make and their social impact? And, as the social impact concepts start sweeping the sector, what exactly does it mean?

What is "social impact"?

Social impact is the real difference that an organisation makes for others, including the positive changes that they help their clients and beneficiaries achieve, as well as the wider effect this has for communities, government, and society at large.  

It is about the direct positive contribution that organisations can make to the communities in which they operate.  

However, it can be difficult for them to truly understand their social impact and pin down exactly their key success factors.

Why is it important for charities to understand their social impact?

Understanding social impact is crucial for any charity or social enterprise to effectively evaluate the difference they make, communicate it to their stakeholders, attract funding, and finally to develop a sustainable growth strategy.

Having a deeper understanding of social impact is becoming mandatory for every organisation looking to grow or even survive.

The not for profit sector faces a series of challenges: i.e. rapid long-term reduction in the availability of local government grants, ever increasing difficulty of winning contracts and ensuring that their growth strategy sees them investing resource and strategic focus on the areas/activities that have had social value outputs identified and valued.

However, to date there has been a commonly held belief that articulating and measuring social impact can be difficult, time-consuming, costly and that only the big charities can afford to tackle such complex and technical challenges.

Muesli: how to crunch your Social Impact

CAN's response to the above challenges has been to create a unique, easy-to-use online tool called Muesli that provides an easy and quick way for charities and social enterprises to start their social impact journey at a fraction of the normal associated costs.

It enables them to create their own Social Impact Map (a.k.a Theory of Change), to identify what their outcomes and impact is, and how to create this, using expert social impact consultancy and professional visual tools.

By using online technology, the process of measuring social impact is simpler, the output is credible and compelling, and most importantly cost-effective. For charities and social enterprises to fully understand their social impact through bespoke consultancy it can cost over £2.5k: with Muesli social enterprises can get a unique social impact map from only £550 + VAT.

Social enterprises such as User Voice, National Star Foundation and Twining Enterprise have already developed their own Social Impact maps with CAN. 

"We have used the Theory of Change both internally and externally so there is much greater clarity about the impact of what we do and being able to collect data to evidence that." - User Voice

For more information, visit Muesli website today

CAN is a registered charity trading as a social enterprise, and the UK’s largest social provider of premises, skills and finance. CAN Invest supports voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs) to build sustainable businesses by providing capital and business support.

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