News

Phase 2 Funding for VCSE Organisations and the Arts Sector

Following on from the accomplishments of Phase 1 of the Programme in 2014/15, Inspiring Impact NI is delighted to announce that seven VCSE organisations have been selected as sub-partners to embed impact practice within their own organisations and with a cohort of their members. This will build on the foundations already laid and will support each of these groups to apply the principles of good impact practice as outlined in the Code of Good Impact Practice.

In addition to this, a consortium of five infrastructure organisations within the Arts Sector will be supported to act as Impact Champions and apply impact practice internally and with a cohort of their members using the Inspiring Impact resources. This will be done in partnership with Belfast City Council and will look to build on the Arts Effects toolkit that was developed to support organisations to demonstrate the impact of their work.

Each organisation selected as part of the Phase 2 roll out will receive funding of up to £12,500 from the Building Change Trust to embed impact practice at an organisational level and to act as impact champions within their sector.

The seven VCSE sub-partners were chosen from organisations that have made substantive progress under Phase 1 and are:

  • Age NI
  • CO3
  • Community Development and Health Network
  • NICVA
  • Playboard
  • Sported
  • Volunteer Now

The successful arts sector consortium includes:

  • Voluntary Arts Ireland
  • Audiences NI
  • Arts & Business NI
  • Theatre NI
  • Dance Resource Base

Aongus O’Keeffe, Leader, Inspiring Impact NI Programme said:

“It’s great to get Phase 2 off the mark and to move to the next stage of our plan for transforming how VCSE organisations and their funders think about and demonstrate the impact of the work they do and investments they make.”

“We would love to have the resources to support all groups that have been involved up to now, however we do see opportunities for groups not in receipt of funding to engage and share experiences through other strands of the programme. We will be looking to see how we can widen the net and get many more organisations applying this way of working and will also be establishing a network of practitioners to share learning and good practice.”

Projects will commence in February 2016 and will run up until the end of June 2017. A range of case studies and other learning documents will be developed and shared throughout the process.

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.

Demonstrating Impact: A Marathon not a Sprint – Inspiring Impact NI Phase 2 Announced

Margaret Henry, Building Change Trust; Aongus O'Keeffe, Programme Leader, Inspiring Impact NI and Tracy Meharg, Department for Social Development at the final Phase 1 knowledge exchange event.
Margaret Henry, Building Change Trust; Aongus O’Keeffe, Programme Leader, Inspiring Impact NI and Tracy Meharg, Department for Social Development at the final Phase 1 knowledge exchange event.

The final Inspiring Impact NI Phase 1 knowledge exchange event took place today (Friday 4 December 2015) and brought together over 70 representatives from the Voluntary, Community & Social Enterprise (VCSE) sectors, statutory and independent funders and academics. The event had a dual purpose: 1: to share learning from Phase 1 of the programme, which draws to a conclusion in 2015; and 2: to announce Phase 2 which will kick off in January 2016 for two years.

Speaking at today’s event Aongus O’Keeffe, Programme Leader for Inspiring Impact NI said:

L-R: Aongus O'Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI; Michelle Loughrey, YEAR project; Brenda Kelly, Sported; Una McKernan, NICVA and Margaret Henry, Building Change Trust.
L-R: Aongus O’Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI; Michelle Loughrey, YEAR project; Brenda Kelly, Sported; Alan Herron, Playboard; Una McKernan, NICVA and Margaret Henry, Building Change Trust.

“Over the past 12 months VCSE organisations and funders have been testing an outcomes focussed impact practice approach. This first phase is now coming to an end and today is both an opportunity to share learning from Phase 1 and to celebrate how far we have come on the journey towards transforming practice. We are delighted to launch our learning paper today, “First Steps to Impact” which highlights the achievements, challenges and learning from the VCSE ‘Planning for Impact’ support programme. We are also excited to announce plans for Phase 2 of the Programme thanks to support from the Building Change Trust and the Department for Social Development to the tune of around £250,000.”

Over the last two years, through a strategic partnership with Community Evaluation NI, significant work has been taking place to support VCSE organisations and their funders to begin to plan for and focus more on the impact of the work that they do using the Inspiring Impact resources. This further investment will help a cohort of organisations and funders to take this to the next level and embed impact practice at a strategic level.

This investment comes in the context of a £600,000 award by the Big Lottery Fund to support the wider UK programme for a further three years.

Phase 2 of the Northern Ireland Programme will focus on four priority areas: developing impact practice across the VCSE sectors and funders; developing and improving Inspiring Impact supportive resources, exchanging and disseminating knowledge and learning from the programme; and influencing policy at a strategic level. For further detail the Operational Plan summary can be viewed here.

The success of Phase 1 of the initiative was due to effective collaboration between the

L-R - Tris Lumley, NPC; Patty Lozano-Casal, Evaluation Support Scotland; Aongus O'Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI and Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust
L-R – Tris Lumley, NPC; Patty Lozano-Casal, Evaluation Support Scotland; Aongus O’Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI and Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust

Trust, Community Evaluation NI, the Department for Social Development and a range of organisations right across the sector who received grant aid and other support to share the approach and resources with their members and groups.

Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust Director of Operations said:

“The Trust believes that the Inspiring Impact Programme meets a demand from right across the sector for high quality resources and support as organisations are ever more focused on demonstrating how increasingly scarce resources are making a real difference to the lives of people and communities in Northern Ireland.”

The Building Change Trust, as the Northern Ireland partner on the UK board, commissioned the delivery of the Inspiring Impact NI programme.  The Trust committed £500,000 to an initial two year programme of work running to December 2015, matched by a further £188,000 from the Department for Social Development, to support VCSE organisations and funders to better understand and embrace an impact focused approach.

Champion of Good Impact Practice 2016 Award

Inspiring Impact NI is delighted that CO3 has included a category for Champion of Good Impact Practice as part of their Leadership Awards 2016. We would like to encourage all of the organisations who have worked with Inspiring Impact NI and have taken steps to implement impact practice in their work  to consider submitting a nomination.

Sponsored by the Building Change Trust and taking inspiration from Inspiring Impact’s Code of Good Impact Practice, this award is designed for a Third Sector leader who has worked within their organisation to support it and who:

  • Takes responsibility for impact and encourage others to do so too.
  • Focusses on purpose.
  • Involves others in its impact practice.
  • Applies proportionate and appropriate methods and resources.
  • Considers the full range of the difference it  makes.
  • Is honest and open.
  • Is willing to change and act on what he/she finds.
  • Actively shares impact plans, methods, findings and learning.

N.B. The award is not comparing the scale of different organisations impact, but the role of the leader in developing the impact practice of the organisation.

Impact Practice: the activities that an organisation does to focus on its impact. This can include planning desired impact, planning how to measure it, collecting information about it, making sense of that information, communicating it and learning from it.

The 1,000 word submission for this category should explain why the nominee should win the award for Champion of Good Impact Practice.

To nominate someone for this award, please fill in CO3’s online nomination form here.  If you require a nomination form in an alternative format, please email sarah@co3.bz or Tel: 028 90 245 356.

 

 

 

Before you fill in the online form, you may want to have the following information to hand :

 

Number of employees

Number of years as director / business leader in their current organisation

Number of years as director / business leader in total

Number of years the organisation has been in existence

Additional directorships held

Organisation turnover for the past three years  (not compulsory for the categories Third Sector Trustee of the Year and Lifetime Commitment to the Third Sector)

Organisation profit for the past three years  (not compulsory for the categories Third Sector Trustee of the Year and Lifetime Commitment to the Third Sector)

Sported’s “Inspired by Your Impact” Celebration Event Marks Key Stage of Programme

Sported 'Planning for Impact' pilot groups.
Sported ‘Planning for Impact’ pilot groups.

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.

No Silver Bullets for Impact Measurement

Inspiring Impact NI is shortly coming to the end of its first phase of operation and following a positive evaluation and prior to the development of a possible second phase, the Building Change Trust would like to take this opportunity to reiterate and clarify the role and purpose of Inspiring Impact in Northern Ireland.

Developed by a collaboration of bodies from across the UK representing the VCSE sector, funders and measurement practitioners, Inspiring Impact is a movement which promotes and encourages impact practice as an organisational wide approach. Inspiring Impact in both Great Britain and Northern Ireland has developed and disseminated resources and aids to the sector and carried out support work directly with organisations. All of our resources and support to the sector have been made available free of charge.

Inspiring Impact is not a product or a tool to measure impact of itself, but rather a process encompassing the activities that an organisation does to focus on its impact. This includes planning desired impact, planning how to measure it, collecting information about it, making sense of that information, communicating it and learning from it.

This distinction is very important, because in recent months (and as pointed out in the independent evaluation report) the question ‘What’s the difference between Inspiring Impact and other approaches/ tools out there? ’ is cropping up more frequently.

Given the range of different methods, products and measurement tools in circulation it is understandable that there is confusion about what differentiates them from each other and which ones are most appropriate.

In one sense the proliferation of tools / approaches is not a bad thing as it indicates a real interest and momentum around the need to measure the difference organisations and their funders are making through their investments. However it also reflects a need for us to be clear about the Inspiring Impact initiative – and its distinction from these often competing approaches and tools which are usually being provided in the commercial marketplace.

Measuring the impact of an organisation’s or funder’s work is not a straight forward process and cannot be achieved by just selecting and applying a measurement tool. A planned approach to Impact Practice is required – strategic thinking and planning that leads to the selection and strategic application of the right tool or approach that will generate relevant information to paint an accurate picture of progress (or otherwise).

Inspiring impact is not about promoting any one measurement  tool or planning process but helping organisations to prepare and plan for the impact they wish to have and then choose the approach and measurement tools most appropriate to achieve this.

Inspiring Impact and the impact practice approach therefore is ‘tools neutral’. There are many measurement tools and approaches that can help an organisation or funder gather information relevant for planning and demonstrating impact. However, an error made by many is to rush into adopting a measurement tool without first having a clear plan on what it is they want to measure and why.

Inspiring Impact and the impact practice cycle complements and supports the use of these other tools and approaches by helping organisations and funders to demystify the outcome measurement landscape & jargon and enabling them to make informed choices regarding selection of those most appropriate to their needs.

Additional Information

Inspiring Impact is about promoting and supporting good Impact Practice – a way of working that can help change organisational culture so that charities and their funders become more focused on the impact of their work and build practice and systems that will support them become more effective at demonstrating the difference they make.

Impact Practice is defined as the activities that an organisation does to focus on its impact. This can include planning the desired impact, identifying how to measure it, collecting measurement data, making sense of that information, then learning from it and communicating results.

To help organisations understand and apply impact practice Inspiring Impact has made a significant investment in developing a range of free to access resources for the sector and their funders:

A Code of Good Impact Practice to define what it means and
An online self-assessment diagnostic “Measuring Up” to help organisations and funders reflect on their current impact practice and plan what they need to do to improve it.
An online Impact Hub – listing and categorising a range of approaches and tools available

These are built around and advocate a cycle of impact practice summarised in four stages:  Plan – Do – Assess – Review (outlined in the diagram below) and lay the foundation for the identification and application of appropriate tools, a number of which are being successfully applied in Northern Ireland and elsewhere – OBA, SROI, Social Value Framework, Measuring Change, Social Impact Tracker etc.

plan do

The Inspiring Impact NI programme was developed by a coalition of VCSE organisations and funders.  A recent external evaluation has found that ‘the IINI programme has been a timely and relevant intervention which has been well planned and well executed. It has engaged a significant cohort of VCSE delivery partners as well as public sector funders to engage with and plan for the implementation of a new approach: impact practice’.

 

 

‘The Case for Change’ Learning Exchange Event Marks Key Stage of Programme

Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust; Bill Osborne, Building Change Trust; Sharon Polson, DSD; Aongus O'Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI and Joanne Morgan, CDHN at the Learning Exchange event.
Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust; Bill Osborne, Building Change Trust; Sharon Polson, DSD; Aongus O’Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI and Joanne Morgan, CDHN at the Learning Exchange event.

The importance of embedding impact practice within the work of voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors and their funders was highlighted at today’s Inspiring Impact NI Learning Exchange Event – ‘The Case for Change’, held in the Mac, Belfast.  The event marks a key stage in the roll out of the Inspiring Impact NI Programme providing an opportunity for both the VCSE and statutory sector demonstration projects to share learning from their experiences over the past 6-9 months as they tested an impact focussed approach within their organisations and funding programmes.

One of the principal strands of our work has been the development of a VCSE support programme with 13 organisations being awarded grants of up to £15,000 from the Building Change Trust to act as ‘impact champions’. These have in turn worked with over 180 of their member organisations to better understand the impact practice cycle and embed it in their work.

In addition to our work with VCSE organisations, we also developed a pilot to test the Inspiring Impact resources in a practical setting with a range of statutory funders.

Aongus O’Keeffe, Programme Leader, Inspiring Impact NI said:

“Today was about sharing the learning from testing an innovative approach to support VCSE organisations and their funders to better demonstrate the impact of their work, or the difference they are making to the lives of people and communities in Northern Ireland.  It was also about generating a discussion and making connections with other transformative initiatives so that we can find more collaborative, integrated and smarter ways of working across the public sector.”

Two Learning Papers capturing the achievements to date and lessons learnt from the demonstration projects are being launched as part of today’s event and are now available to download here:

VCSE Shared Learning Paper – Preliminary insights and lessons from the VCSE support programme

Funders Shared Learning Paper – Insights and lessons from five statutory sector demonstration projects

The Building Change Trust (BCT), who commissioned this initiative, recognises that this journey is only beginning and to that end has commissioned the production of a development plan for a possible phase 2 for Inspiring Impact NI. This plan will be considered by the BCT Board in the autumn.

Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust said:

“The Trust thinks it is important that

voluntary and community organisations can articulate clearly the difference they hope to make and are able to reliably measure what they achieve and to communicate this to funders and other stakeholders.

“Inspiring Impact NI is making a huge difference in the VCSE Sector across Northern Ireland and this event will be a great showcase of that. We’re confident this is just the beginning for these organisations – and the sector as whole.

“We believe showing what they do and the impact they are making in communities in Northern Ireland will become second nature”.

The Building Change Trust, as the Northern Ireland partner on the UK board, commissioned the delivery of the Inspiring Impact NI programme.  The Trust committed £500,000 to an initial two year programme of work running to December 2015, matched by a further £188,000 from the Department for Social Development, to support VCSE organisations and funders to better understand and embrace an impact focused approach.

‘The Case for Change’ Learning Exchange Event Marks Key Stage of Programme

Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust; Bill Osborne, Building Change Trust; Sharon Polson, DSD; Aongus O'Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI and Joanne Morgan, CDHN at the Learning Exchange event.
Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust; Bill Osborne, Building Change Trust; Sharon Polson, DSD; Aongus O’Keeffe, Inspiring Impact NI and Joanne Morgan, CDHN at the Learning Exchange event.

The importance of embedding impact practice within the work of voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors and their funders was highlighted at today’s Inspiring Impact NI Learning Exchange Event – ‘The Case for Change’, held in the Mac, Belfast.  The event marks a key stage in the roll out of the Inspiring Impact NI Programme providing an opportunity for both the VCSE and statutory sector demonstration projects to share learning from their experiences over the past 6-9 months as they tested an impact focussed approach within their organisations and funding programmes.

One of the principal strands of our work has been the development of a VCSE support programme with 13 organisations being awarded grants of up to £15,000 from the Building Change Trust to act as ‘impact champions’. These have in turn worked with over 180 of their member organisations to better understand the impact practice cycle and embed it in their work.

In addition to our work with VCSE organisations, we also developed a pilot to test the Inspiring Impact resources in a practical setting with a range of statutory funders.

Aongus O’Keeffe, Programme Leader, Inspiring Impact NI said:

“Today was about sharing the learning from testing an innovative approach to support VCSE organisations and their funders to better demonstrate the impact of their work, or the difference they are making to the lives of people and communities in Northern Ireland.  It was also about generating a discussion and making connections with other transformative initiatives so that we can find more collaborative, integrated and smarter ways of working across the public sector.”

Two Learning Papers capturing the achievements to date and lessons learnt from the demonstration projects are being launched as part of today’s event and are now available to download here:

VCSE Shared Learning Paper – Preliminary insights and lessons from the VCSE support programme

Funders Shared Learning Paper – Insights and lessons from five statutory sector demonstration projects

The Building Change Trust (BCT), who commissioned this initiative, recognises that this journey is only beginning and to that end has commissioned the production of a development plan for a possible phase 2 for Inspiring Impact NI. This plan will be considered by the BCT Board in the autumn.

Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust said:

“The Trust thinks it is important that

voluntary and community organisations can articulate clearly the difference they hope to make and are able to reliably measure what they achieve and to communicate this to funders and other stakeholders.

“Inspiring Impact NI is making a huge difference in the VCSE Sector across Northern Ireland and this event will be a great showcase of that. We’re confident this is just the beginning for these organisations – and the sector as whole.

“We believe showing what they do and the impact they are making in communities in Northern Ireland will become second nature”.

The Building Change Trust, as the Northern Ireland partner on the UK board, commissioned the delivery of the Inspiring Impact NI programme.  The Trust committed £500,000 to an initial two year programme of work running to December 2015, matched by a further £188,000 from the Department for Social Development, to support VCSE organisations and funders to better understand and embrace an impact focused approach.

Scoping Study – Issues, Opportunities and Barriers to Implementing Impact Practice Within Northern Ireland’s Statutory Sector

As part of the engagement with the public sector, Inspiring Impact NI’s strategic partner, CENI,  commissioned PwC and a team of associates including Edgar Jardine, Dr James Magowan and New Philanthropy Capital to undertake a scoping study to explore issues and barriers to implementing impact practice with the NI statutory sector. A report outlining the key findings from this study can be downloaded here.

Investing in the Voluntary and Community Sector: Compliance V’s Impact – Getting the Balance Right!

Aongus O'Keeffe with Sammy Douglas, MLA.
Aongus O’Keeffe with Sammy Douglas, MLA.

In a time of austerity and tough budget decisions, Government needs to have clear evidence about the difference its investment in the voluntary and community sector is making in order to focus scarce resources where they can have greatest impact. However, existing systems of compliance and control, while generating volumes of monitoring data, produce little evidence to demonstrate the impact this investment makes to the lives of people and communities in most need. This evidence deficit now poses a significant budgetary challenge for policy makers in deciding where to prioritise and where to cut funding.

Inspiring Impact NI, a Building Change Trust initiative which is supporting VCSE organisations and their funders to better understand and embrace impact practice, is aiming to address this deficit and put impact at the heart of the sector.

As the Northern Ireland partner on the UK board, The Building Change Trust has committed £500,000 matched by a further £188,000 from the Department for Social Development, to deliver an initial two year programme of work here in Northern Ireland.

As part of the programme, Sammy Douglas MLA hosted a recent event in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings, which outlined some of the efforts currently underway to address this problem.

The session then kicked off with a recently developed video animation summarising some of the challenges faced and potential solutions:

Aongus O’Keeffe, Programme Leader, Inspiring Impact NI shared some of the feedback received from conversations with MLAs in a recent piece of commissioned research. A survey sample of over 40 MLAs were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statements:

  • Government needs to show leadership by prioritising a focus on impact in their investments for communities
  • The community and voluntary sector needs to better demonstrate the difference their interventions make to communities
  • Government funders need to prioritise impact as part of commissioning processes
  • Government funders and the community and voluntary sector need to work more closely to design, plan for and demonstrate the impact of their interventions
  • Resources and support need to be re-focused to enable Government funders and community and voluntary sector to better demonstrate their impact

There was over 80% agreement with these statements outlining that there is consensus that current systems to demonstrate the impact of investment across VCSE organisations are ineffective and need to change. When asked what they felt would help Government funders and the VCSE sector to focus more on the impact of their work the following were the top four responses provided:

  • Better assessment of outcomes/robust evaluation (18%)
  • Better collaboration between government and V & C sector (15%)
  • Clearly defined outcomes/objectives (12%)
  • Demonstrate positive results/communicate tangible benefits (9%)

Complementing this, PwC shared some initial findings into a scoping study with Government into the issues and opportunities facing the statutory sector in Northern Ireland when it comes to measuring the impact of funded VCSE programmes.  This report is due for publication in late February/early March 2015.

In addition, National Children’s Bureau outlined some of the work they are currently doing to help ensure an outcomes focus within Government, with particular reference to the Early Intervention Transformation and the Colin Early Intervention Programmes. Inspiring Impact NI finally outlined the support they are providing to 13 VCSE organisations and five statutory funders through demonstration projects to apply an impact practice approach in their work.

A lively debate and discussion followed these presentations with critical points raised about sustaining the momentum of the Inspiring Impact NI programme which has been supporting VCSE organisation and their funders to apply impact practice in their organisations and programmes.