Meet our Expert

Andy_RichAndy Rich – Partner, HW Fisher

Andy Rich heads up the HW Fisher’s not-for-profit group, specialising on the charity side, acting for an array of voluntary organisations. He has a comprehensive understanding of the wide range of issues concerned around charity accounts. Additionally, Andy also has a significant portfolio of commercial clients operating in the media, property and retail sectors.

 

“Impact reporting”

The answer

Charities have been struggling with impact reporting for many years. Donors are however more interested in a charity’s outcomes from using their donations. Many charities can have a very large impact in their field with very little funds whereas others struggle to show what they have achieved with much larger sums. It is simply not sufficient to measure achievement by how much you have spent. In the current economic climate those providing the funds for charities want to see value for money and this is why charities should increase their focus on impact measures. Using these measures also assists you to demonstrate the charity has met the public benefit requirement. The charity will also want to ensure its website is up to date with achievements and developments.

Performance should be measured in terms of what impact an organisation is making against clearly identified goals and targets.  It also represents a shift away from measuring performance in terms of how much or how little goes on administration and overheads. However, it is not a once a year process to improve the quality of the statutory accounts. This will therefore place additional demands on systems to accurately collect and report on information throughout the year. The process begins with identifying the key measures that will assess whether the charity has met its goals. The usual starting place is to look at your strategic plan and review what you are hoping to achieve during the period of the plan.

In some areas it may be possible to obtain quantitative data (e.g. number of individuals who are referred to the charity) but some qualitative measures may need to be broken down further. A charity working with providing skills for people to find employment would no doubt have a measure of success as the number of applicants successfully finding a job.  However, for the individuals concerned there may be other important milestones that should be monitored such as passing a training course, or obtaining a job interview. However it is not always the case that quantitative data is suitable and the charity might want to consider collecting case studies or personal stories from the charities beneficiaries. Comments from users on the difference a service has made to them. The best measures are “Impact measures” which are evidence of system wide change related to the problem the charity is addressing.  However, this data can be very difficult and expensive to obtain.

We have assisted many clients with identifying measures and developing systems and would be happy to discuss your charity needs.