Demonstrate your impact: what does this actually mean?

Thursday, 9 February 2017 - 10:47am

In the last decade government, funders and the charitable sector have all become rather obsessed with outcomes and impact. But what exactly does this mean? And why are charities being called upon more and more to report on their outcomes and demonstrate their impact? 

make an impact die cut sign

We know in the sector that the work we are doing is important, we see it every day and know what would happen if these services weren’t available. However, for funders and policy makers who are not on the front line and who are a few steps removed from the everyday reality of life for disadvantaged people, how can they be sure that your service is the one they should fund? How will they compare between your service and the 20 others applying for funding?

In essence, why should they fund you over others’ working to support people in the same sector? They decide based on evidence of impact and outcomes: if you can show that your service is getting results through the collection of information (data) about the work you are doing to support people and the difference it is making, then you have evidence to demonstrate your impact.

However, collecting information about the service you are providing, the people you are supporting and the difference that support is making, is not just about demonstrating impact to funders – it is also about looking critically and analytically at what you are doing to ensure you are providing the best service and outcomes you can.

How can we look at what we have done over the last year to support people? Or know what difference that hard work has made to peoples’ lives, if we have no information on who we have supported and what the outcomes of that support has been? Can we identify where we might be going wrong, or where there are gaps, if we don’t have any information about things that didn’t turn out so well? Can we take action based on evidence to change those outcomes for the next individuals who access our services? In addition, how can we demonstrate to key stakeholders that our service is value for money, and that we are using our funding in a way that is actually making difference?

To be able to answer all of these questions, our sector needs to change how it collects and uses information (data) to demonstrate impact and review services. It takes time to develop a culture of monitoring and to review the work we do every day, and it is easy to get caught up in the reactionary fire-fighting that frontline work demands. However, in the end, how can we be sure that, what we are doing works and that we are helping as many people as we can? And how can we continue to secure the funding required to continue that work?

Do you need help demonstrating your impact?

If this resonates with you, or your organisation and you want support to look at how you currently collect information (data), monitor and review your work; if you need help in understanding how to use that information, to review services and demonstrate impact to funders - then we can help.

We have received funding through The City Bridge Trust to support small and medium frontline agencies operating in London through training, one to one support and access to our In-Form community database. We can tailor our support to your needs and thanks to the funding it is available free of charge! The only commitment we require from you - is your time.

For more information, or to express an interest in taking part in the project, please visit our webpage or contact Lisa Raftery, London Development Manager at

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Lisa Raftery

Lisa Raftery

Grants Manager

Lisa is managing the Ending Women’s Homelessness and Housing First grant programmes. 

Telephone: 020 7840 4416