Does the work we do achieve our overall goals? Are we actually contributing to the change we want to see in society? How do we know?

Until recently, conventional wisdom held that it was sufficient for organisations to focus on outputs for their work, for example, how many people attended a training course or how much funding was gained. We know that this only tells part of the story, and the boring part at that!

Supporting Communities wants to get the heart of the matter - to measure and understand the impact that our work has for the communities, individuals and organisations with whom we work. The aim is to better understand what difference that training course actually made for the people involved.

We want to measure the real impact that funding for a particular activity had on the lives of the people within that community. In short, what were the real benefits? How did lives change? What is the story of that change?

Social Value Impact Report

We employed the services of Gauge NI who worked with us to produce an independent assessment of the services we provided to member groups experienced by a wide range of our stakeholders covering the period from 1st April 2014 to the 31st March 2015.

Using a model called Social Return on Investment (SROI), which uses monetary values to represent social costs and benefits, we were able to calculate the social value that our stakeholders experience through changes in their lives that can be directly attributed to Supporting Communities’ interventions.

Gauge NI has produced a report using a clear logic model to identify Supporting Communities’ main inputs, outputs, and outcomes as they relate to the identified stakeholders. The research shows the considerable impact that community led housing services can have on the health, confidence, pride and general well being of the range of stakeholders and local communities we work with. It has revealed significant positive effects including improved physical and social environments, well being of community members, and more stable housing.

Read the full report which further explains the methodology of the approach we have used. 

Key Findings:

  • For every £1 invested in our services, approximately £8 of social and economic value was returned. This figure represents the real benefits received by our stakeholders including community groups, local communities, individual group members, digital trainees, Housing Executive and Inter-Agency partners.
  • The services provided during the 2014/15 year will have generated a social value of approximately £119 million over the next 5 years.
  • The value for stakeholders, such as the Housing Executive, DfC and other statutory agencies, lies in our vast network of community groups and our links and relationships all across Northern Ireland.
  • Working with Supporting Communities to deliver training or engage in consultations with communities is an efficient and cost-effective option for statutory agencies.

But the most statistically significant findings related to our impact on local communities themselves, which resulted in:

  •  Improved physical environment (41.5% of total outcome value).
  •  Improved sense of belonging to the community (26.75% of total outcome value).
  •  Improved social environment (18.72% of total outcome value).

It is important to note that this particular study focused primarily on the work we do on behalf of the Housing Executive. We will expand this in the future to measure the impact of the wider range of our work, including our work with Housing Associations.

Measure Your Impact

Although impact measurement can be an arduous task, it is vital one that allows us to see where we are having the most impact and what activities result in real changes for the people we want to help. It allows us to be accountable as a charity and to fully determine and report on the impact and benefit our services provide to our stakeholders and the public.

Supporting Communities is keen to support the community groups that we work with to begin to examine and measure their own impact. We will be developing a support and training package to help groups apply impact measurement and SROI principles to their own activities. Get in touch to find out more.