Measuring community impact

Demonstrating the difference you are making in and to the communities you are working with is becoming increasingly important for community organisations.

There is great benefit for community organisations in impact planning, measurement and evaluation – from your strategic planning and objectives, to demonstrating the value of your work to funders and government and communicating this value to your followers.

What is community ‘impact’?

The word impact can be replaced with words like ‘change’, ‘effect’, ‘outcome’, ‘benefit’ and ‘result’, but they all largely mean the same thing.

You’ll hear people talking about demonstrating and measuring impact, which means taking a step back and thinking about the difference you make through the work you do and collecting data to show this.

Your impact may be the difference that you make to those who directly use your service, to those in the local community more generally, or to wider society. The impact you highlight can be wide ranging and can affect many aspects of people’s lives.

If someone asked you right now “What does your project achieve?”, what would you say to them? How do you know how it’s going, what works well and what doesn’t?

Why is it important?

Collecting data on the difference your project is making has many benefits:

  • Helps you think through the problem you’re tackling
  • See how you are doing and how you can improve
  • Helps plan what you are going to do next
  • Tell your story and inspire others
  • Attracts further funding and investment
  • Raises awareness in the local community.

How can we show impact?

To explore how you’re doing, what’s going well and what could be improved, it’s useful to start by asking a few questions:

What need is your project meeting? For example, some young people have nothing to do in the evening on the estate so we are running street football and street cricket sessions for them.

What’s the problem you’re trying to tackle? Because some young people have nothing to do, they are littering, breaking windows, fighting and getting into trouble.

Who benefits from what you’re doing? Young people on the estate aged 12 – 19, parents, residents, local  businesses , sports clubs.

What do you (and others) do that makes a real difference? The young people learn sports skills and we help them get along better with each other. We help them see that team work can be positive and that there are adults that care about them.

What is your projects’ specific goals? We want young people to feel better about themselves, grow in confidence and wanting to explore their future options.

How will you know if you’ve achieved them? More young people asking us about coaching qualifications and wanting more information about sports or educational qualifications, more confidence, fewer reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB) and other low level criminal activity on the estate.

Find out more about methods of measuring impact