Demonstrating impact essential for smaller charities

New research by Think:Learn:Do commissioned by NAVCA highlights difficulties smaller charities have when using data to demonstrate their value. The research, titled In sickness and in health, also looked at how local infrastructure can best support them to overcome these difficulties.

This research shows that more needs to be done to support charities to demonstrate impact. Without this support commissioners may wrongly disinvest in smaller charities. The lack of evidence may mean that services providing value for money and producing the best outcomes are overlooked.

The research found:

  1. Given the right support and funding to pay for the time, small VCS organisations are confident about their ability to demonstrate the effectiveness, impact, and value that their services have.
  2. A category of VCS organisations delivering services to very hard to reach groups and closed communities don’t feel the need to demonstrate impact in bid development processes. These organisations are often staffed by members of the community they service and ‘intuitively’ understand user needs, and how their service meets this.
  3. There is a relationship between the level of targeted infrastructure support and VCS organisations ambition and confidence to take on new commissioning opportunities.
  4. Infrastructure organisations are most effective in supporting effective commissioning when assume a brokering role between commissioners and contractors.
  5. The potential for infrastructure organisations to be marginalised in specialist tendering markets, such as health, remains a threat to the national infrastructure network.

Jason Pollard, Director of Evidence and Evaluation at Think:Learn:Do, said:

"This research is a timely reminder that small charities face challenges in evidencing the important work they carry out locally. All tendering is data driven to an extent, and infrastructure support is at its strongest when umbrella organisations help smaller organisations to demonstrate their ability, not only to deliver services efficiently, but to do so effectively by achieving outcomes. As health and social care commissioning processes become more specialised, so therefore does the need for an infrastructure offer that supports small charities to compete as social businesses in open tendering processes".

Neil Cleeveley, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;

“This research provides further evidence of the value of local infrastructure. It shows that investing in infrastructure can help smaller charities understand and demonstrate their impact. This in turn gives commissioners and politicians the evidence they need for good decision making that provides both good outcomes and value for money.”

Download the In Sickness and in Health report.