Sported were one of 13 voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to receive a Building Change Award through the Inspiring Impact Northern Ireland Programme in August 2014 to act as leaders for impact within their sector. The funding was to enable organisations to promote and embed an impact focused approach – impact practice – across their network.
Following a busy 12 months of supporting groups, Sported held their ‘Inspired by Your Impact’ end of demonstration project celebration event on Wednesday 9th September 2015. The event provided opportunity to reflect on the key learning and challenges for groups involved in the pilot project as they tested an impact focussed approach, through a combination of group discussions and individual case studies. The Sported supported pilot groups were joined by Sported’s CEO, Chris Grant, along with a number of Sported’s volunteer mentors and CENI staff members, Gladys Swanton and Nicola McIldoon.
Sported have supported 20 of their Northern Ireland member groups through the pilot programme, with all of these groups now signed up to the Code of Good Impact practice and 18 groups implementing their Impact Practice Action Plans, having completed the Measuring Up! self-assessment tool. Sported have offered pilot groups a range of support through group workshops, 1:1 support, remote support, facilitating discussions around Measuring Up!, reviewing action plans and signposting to resources.
Those involved in the pilot commented on Wednesday evening:
“We knew what we were offering but didn’t appreciate the impact it had……we knew we had a difference but were not measuring this in any way”- involvement in Inspiring Impact pilot project has changed this, with groups acknowledging their impact and putting plans in place to measure this.
“Measuring Up! was simple and to the point, and taught us how to structure the process of impact measurement in order to imbed it into the organisation.”
“Measuring Up! allows for collective sharing of ideas and reflections at different points of the process”.
“It has been a helpful experience particularly for younger committee members and subcommittee groups. We have a few ideas on how we can adapt the tool to assist us with training volunteers.”
The key challenges for Sported member groups in completing the pilot programme were time and resource, as the groups are voluntary-led and driven. These challenges were overcome with individual, in-depth support from Sported staff and resources on the Impact Hub. Key learning for groups included the need to focus on the intended impact at planning stages, and the importance of reflecting on the ‘why’ before beginning a new programme / activity. Groups also commented on their realisation that Impact Practice was important for reasons other than obtaining funding.
The groups’ commitment to Impact Practice was acknowledged at the close of the event with a ‘Certificate of Completion’, presented by Chris Grant, who highlighted the importance of the pilot programme for Sported’s own learning and development.