Sowing Seeds of Change

L-R: Will Haire, Permanent Secretary, DSD; Julie Harrison, Building Change Trust; Aongus O'Keeffe, Programme Leader, Inspiring Impact NI and David Carrington, Chair, Inspiring Impact UK
L-R: Will Haire, Permanent Secretary, DSD; Julie Harrison, Building Change Trust; Aongus O’Keeffe, Programme Leader, Inspiring Impact NI and David Carrington, Chair, Inspiring Impact UK

Inspiring Impact Northern Ireland  hosted its first Impact Exchange event (Friday 7 November 2014) to highlight the importance of impact practice and to demonstrate the progress that has been made in its programme to date.

The discussion at the event focused on the need to plan for impact and highlighted how this is being achieved by voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations, independent and statutory funders.

The half day seminar sought to share some good practice and showcase how the VCSE sector and its funders can be more effective by systematically focusing on impact and planning for the change they wish to bring about in society.

The Building Change Trust has commissioned the delivery of the Inspiring Impact NI Programme. The Trust has committed £500,000 to an initial two year programme of work from 2013, matched by a further £188,000 from the Department for Social Development, which will support VCSE organisations and their funders to better understand and embrace impact practice.

Julie Harrison from the Building Change Trust said:

“The event today showcased some great examples of how both organisations and funders are practically focused on the impact of their work and investments. This will hopefully sow a seed for other organisations and funders on how they can demonstrate the impact of their work.”

Aongus O’ Keeffe from the Inspiring Impact NI programme emphasised that “this event is about bringing together key people from the VCSE and Public sectors to learn from some good practice and share their experiences in an effort to improve how the sector operates relating to impact. It is about shifting the culture and becoming more impact focused as a sector.”

The Inspiring Impact programme has developed a range of resources including a Code of Good Impact Practice and Measuring Up!, an online self-assessment linked to the Code’s impact cycle to support the sector

Adopting an Impact Practice approach can have multiple benefits for funders (and the people/organisations they fund) including:

· Better able to demonstrate the difference that funding programmes make to people and communities

·  Informing strategic planning and decision making on resource allocation

·  Identifying which interventions are most effective in meeting need

·  Inform more efficient targeting of scarce resources to where they can make the most difference

·  Improved delivery of services for those most in need

Now, more than ever, public expenditure, whether statutory or non-statutory has to demonstrate that it is having an impact on peoples lives.

Speakers at the event included Denis McMahon, Director of Equality & Strategy Directorate, OFMDFM; Anne McCready & Kieran McArdle from the United Youth Programme at the Department for Employment & Learning; Jane Steele form the Paul Hamlyn Foundation who looked at how they have gone about assessing the impact of their investments; Gillian Nowland from One25, a Bristol based charity that reaches out to women trapped in or vulnerable to street sex work; and Will Haire, Permanent Secretary, DSD.