Inspiring Impact NI Scoping Study examines public sector ‘readiness for outcomes-based funding’

report coverSo we know that Government has committed to an outcomes approach in the new Programme for Government. But what needs to happen to ensure the public sector is practically ready to deliver on this commitment? That was the theme of Inspiring Impact NI’s most recent Impact Exchange event at which we recently launched this report at Girdwood Community Hub.

We commissioned this study to explore the practical challenges facing public sector funders in introducing an outcomes-based approach to funding the VCSE sector, and to make recommendations about what needs to happen for this approach to be effective.

The report outlined findings across three key areas…

pdf for website

… and made three headline recommendations:

123 recommendations

Marking a key stage in the roll out of Phase 2 of the Inspiring Impact NI Programme, the event brought together a range of public sector and VCSE representatives to explore these issues.

Aongus O'Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI Programme Leader, Edgar Jardine and Brenda Kent, CENI at the launch the Embracing Change report.
Aongus O’Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI Programme Leader, Edgar Jardine and Brenda Kent, CENI at the launch the Embracing Change report.

Speaking at the event, Aongus O’Keeffe, Programme Leader, Inspiring Impact NI said:

“Inspiring Impact NI is delighted today to host this important and topical event as we move to the next stage of our plan for transforming how VCSEs and funders think about and demonstrate the impact of the work”.

“Although the study found that a gap exists between the vision for an outcomes-based approach and its potential operational delivery, we believe that given the right motivation, leadership and commitment by both the public and VCSE sectors to invest in change that there is considerable potential to address this gap.”

Brendan McDonnell, Director, Community Evaluation NI said:

“CENI is delighted to deliver the Inspiring Impact NI Programme and to play a key role in championing the need for good impact practice across the sector. The draft PfG sets out how the NI Executive will deliver their priorities underpinned for the first time by an outcomes-based approach. An outcomes-based system of government if properly implemented can bring considerable advantages in terms of improving decision making, collaboration, resource allocation and demonstrating public benefit. However, implementing an outcomes-based approach is challenging – it is vital that public funders and their VCSE sector recipients are made ready for this challenge.

“As the ‘Embracing Change’ paper launched today highlights, the key message coming through is one of preparation – and while some preparation is happening in terms of training people in the technicalities of outcomes measurement – there needs to be more, particularly in terms providing people with a wider explanation and understanding of the concept of outcomes and what this means in the context of their own work areas.”

The Inspiring Impact NI Programme is a Building Change Trust initiative supporting VCSE organisations and their funders to better understand and apply impact practice.

As the Northern Ireland partner on the UK board, The Building Change Trust has invested over £750,000 over a 4 year period (2014-2017) in a dedicated programme of support for the VCSE sector and its funders locally. This has been supplemented with £240,000 from the Department for Social Development (DSD).

Community Evaluation NI (CENI) has been commissioned by the Trust to support the development and delivery of this programme.