Impact management and rugby

Stuart Emmerson, Regional Director at SEUK, shares his reflections from a recent peer learning event in Birmingham.

Impact management sounds like something the England rugby coach, Eddie Jones, might discuss in his team talk before sending his team out to play at Twickenham. Impact management to ensure that his players avoid injury, respond to the environment and adapt their game when required – and try to avoid being flattened by the opposing number 8!

The Access Foundation’s two-year Impact Management Programme has much the same ethos and ambition. It aims to build the capacity of charities and social enterprises to manage their impact. This means supporting them to analyse and respond to the data they collect - using it to change and improve programmes and services – except in the game of life, rather than on the pitch. The aspiration is that this will help organisations increase their social impact and diversify income. In the news this week we have had further confirmation that austerity is with us for the foreseeable future. Northamptonshire County Council has reportedly cut all future spending. This is coupled with the reality that more organisations are chasing a dwindling funding pot. Commerciality and sustainability is more important than ever. This means collecting, analysing and responding to data to seize limited opportunities.

There are great organisations in communities across the country who recognise the importance of this management (alongside measurement). Last week, SEUK held one of our peer learning events in Birmingham with a diverse mix of attendees who brought insight and expertise to the session. Amongst others we had PocZero who promote active wellbeing and lifelong learning. They work in communities to develop and connect local assets to evidence-based outcomes. We had Creative Alliance who provide apprenticeships within media and creative sectors in the Midlands. We even had the police. Yes, West Midlands Police came along, recognising that they collect a lot of information and how they act on it is pivotal to decisions regarding operational activity in communities across the West Midlands. This mix of small, medium and large organisations demonstrated how important the management of data is to all types of organisation.

Impact management means analysing and responding to the data you collect, using data to adapt products and services and then integrating data into strategy and performance management processes. Organisations often tell us that data is often collected to report to funders rather than improve outcomes for service users. With less funding available in the current economic climate, organisations need to find effective and efficient ways to collect and use data for service adaptation and the inevitable funder reporting.

Creating a ‘culture’ of impact management surfaces time and again as the number one challenge to collecting and taking action. The importance of analysing and responding to data needs to run through the DNA of an organisation whether small or large. This is easier said than done, which is why this programme aims to help with that heavy lifting. We are running a programme co-designed by the sector for the sector to make sure our content is relevant and accessible. We’re excited that Creative Alliance who attended our latest event is taking peer learning a step further by presenting at our next event. The launch of our upcoming impact support website will also help organisations with limited capacity to navigate the world of data management and help them to see what good looks like (much like the Good Finance website does for social investment).

It’s an exciting stage, with the imminent launch of a new website and further peer learning events across England.

Finally, thanks to the wonderful BVSC conference centre in Central Birmingham who hosted and provided a lovely lunch.

England to win this year’s Six Nations Championship? Only if their impact management is spot on!