, 16 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
What follows is a long thread prompted by the (many) recent tweets about efficiency, impact, evidence etc. The thread summarises what I have learned in near 20 years. My current position is different from where I started. 1/n
Impact was a dirty word in the early ‘00s. Many charities hated the subject being raised, especially by people they regarded as interlopers such as @npcthinks. That has changed a lot, but charities still don’t embrace and own the subject enough. 2/n
@NPCthinks The lack of ownership has a number of elements. First, it means there are no common approaches to impact and this vacuum leaves the field open for silly and damaging approaches based on overheads or other misguided notions of “efficiency” or effectiveness. 3/n
@NPCthinks Charities have mostly failed to tackle the fallacy of overheads. They complain about it, but collectively offer nothing in its place and sometimes collude with it. Ordinary people grasp the idea of overheads and don’t like them. They need something positive to replace it. 4/n
@NPCthinks Efficiency does have a valid meaning, but it is not about overheads. It links to effectiveness. Look at my medium.com blog – I describe a charity which was effective but very inefficient. Charities should strive to be efficient as part of being effective. 5/n
@NPCthinks A simple way of communicating the essence of what a charity does and achieves is needed to fill the vacuum. It should cover efficiency, effectiveness and reach. The golden triangle I wrote about, building on @KateLeeCEO’s blog and my own past work could work. 6/n
@NPCthinks @KateLeeCEO Without something like this, the sector will remain vulnerable. And, depending on your perspective, it is already not in great shape in terms of trust. 7/n
@NPCthinks @KateLeeCEO There is another, crucial, dimension, namely what is impact for. It is not, in my opinion, simply to demonstrate effectiveness. On this, I have been on a long journey since @npcthinks began. 8/n
@NPCthinks @KateLeeCEO Impact is not about accountability. It is more about the pursuit of charitable purpose. Charities need to understand impact for their internal processes and pursuit of improvement. Impact is about improving first, not proving. That distinction must be asserted and owned. 9/n
@NPCthinks @KateLeeCEO Debates about measurement – SROI, etc – are misguided because of this. They struggle with nuance around the role of data & measurement. Too often, people fixate on a single number, inevitably for proving purposes only. My own @probonoecon and others continue that mistake. 10/n
@NPCthinks @KateLeeCEO @ProBonoEcon Charities need to claim – confidently & boldly – the idea of impact as something which helps them achieve more, demonstrating this to supporters. Simple measures are not the central feature of this as a future, in my opinion. Narratives with numbers are. 11/n
@NPCthinks @KateLeeCEO @ProBonoEcon Therefore, tone and communication are as important as are evidence and hard numbers. Which is why @CLICSargent impact report is so good. 12/n
@NPCthinks @KateLeeCEO @ProBonoEcon @CLICSargent Impact reporting, then, is about demonstrating that you are doing your best to achieve the most you can. 13/n
@NPCthinks @KateLeeCEO @ProBonoEcon @CLICSargent At the risk of uttering a heresy, I think the sector has suffered both from a lack of confidence about the impact debate and having it imposed from the outside by finance professionals and people like me. (Sorry.) 14/n
@NPCthinks @KateLeeCEO @ProBonoEcon @CLICSargent I spoke about impact at a small charity board meeting recently and started “Impact is a journey, it is not a number or a destination. It is how you should be, think and act.” 15/n
@NPCthinks @KateLeeCEO @ProBonoEcon @CLICSargent The finance people on the board said this helped them understand, be more accepting of the idea & related it to how ESG issues are addressed in their worlds. If finance can handle the attendant ambiguities, so can charities. The time to own that must surely have come. 16/16
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