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Measuring Impact: I haven’t got time……

  • Kathryn Berry is Head of Member Services at Sported. She has worked in the sport sector for 10 years, having previously worked in the youth and community sector. Having working with clubs from the grass roots up, seeing them achieve what they set out to do and have a positive impact on their local communities is something she is passionate about.

    It often feels that cherry picking our favourite tasks, or the quickest ones, is the recipe to having a good day in the office. This makes us feel like we have really achieved something. However, in reality what this really means is that we may have left the most important, or tricky thing, until the last minute.

    For many of us, including myself, this is not an issue of prioritisation. It is more about trying to get as much completed as possible and, in all honesty, sometimes not having the motivation to start something I favour less!

    For many of the member organisations that we work with at Sported, this is a familiar balancing act. For these community, youth and sports organisations, there are many important tasks to be completed.  In the Sport for Development sector 64% are entirely volunteer led and the asks on their time are often huge. For these groups,  monitoring and evaluation and impact assessments are often at the bottom of the list.

    Admittedly, this doesn’t sound or look like a particularly sexy task. However, with the competition for funding, commissioning and proving the impact that sport has on society, it is absolutely critical.

    So how can we make impact measurement jump to the top of the list?

    There is a work to be done in the Sport for Development sector. We need to show why measuring impact is so important and that it needn’t be an arduous exercise.

    Impact measurement conjures up an image of data inputting or of analysing spreadsheets. However, we need to start thinking about how effective impact measurement system can benefit our organisations.

    Changing the way that organisations see the measurement of impact, is not something that will happen overnight - it is about culture change. At Sported, we think that there are some key questions that organisations can ask themselves in order to start this process:

    • How could focusing on impact help you to do your job?  Focusing on your impact will help formulate your organisations strategy, improve the efficiency of your programmes and energise your team of volunteers.
    • How could focusing on impact help you with long-term finances? Funders are increasingly asking for demonstrable results.
    • Is focusing on impact the new normal?  Impact measurement is already the norm, not the exception. By choosing to focus on your impact practice now, you can ensure you are equipped for the future.
    • When is the time to prioritise impact?  The time is now!
    • What could you do today to get you started? A useful focus on impact doesn’t have to cost the earth, and the resources put into it should always be proportionate. But it does require some investment of time and/or money. Think about which areas of your work require improved impact measurement and how to do this in a time/cost effective way.

    Adapted from: Are You Leading for Impact?, NPC, 2013

    Making a start is often the hardest part. However there are lots of tools and support for organisations. Sported has lots of resources and volunteer support for organisations. More information about becoming a member and accessing this support can be found at http://sported.org.uk/become-a-member/