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Fundraising: Demonstrating Your Impact

Posted on: November 14th, 2018 by Sylvia Oates

Our Fundraising expert, Jo Cox-Brown, shares some tips and advice on how to demonstrate the impact of your charity to potential funders.

My last fundraising blog covered personalising your requests for funds, and today’s blog has been inspired by an excellent piece of research undertaken by a think tank IPPR North. The research indicates that in the north of England alone there are 930,000 volunteers contributing 67 million hours of time to charities each year, and the challenges that charities face in demonstrating their impact.

I therefore thought that this would be a good topic for a blog post. Every fundraiser’s dream is that someone rich would just rock up and give them a load of money no questions asked. The reality is far from this; often funders want far more from a charity than a bank would ask for if it were to loan you the money. Sometimes the amount of data that is required by Trusts to hand over money outweighs the benefits of getting the money in the first place. If you fancy a giggle about what fundraisers really want to answer to questions on grant applications check out this article.

However, imagine you’ve identified an ideal pot of money for the charity, how can you ensure that your application stands out against the crowd? As someone who both writes grant applications and assesses, there is one thing that I always ensure that I include and/or check for and that is value for money, return on investment or justified worth. Whatever you like to call it, being able to demonstrate your impact is essential.

So how do you go about demonstrating impact? Here are my top tops:

  1. To meet current GDPR regulation you need to have a policy on data collection and what it will be used for. Fundraising is a legitimate reason but just make sure you follow the letter of the law on this.
  2. Decide what you want to measure and why.
  3. You don’t need fancy CRM tools. You can start to record data using a simple spreadsheet. I would recommend starting by recording:
    1. volunteer hours at living wage or minimum wage time. Also include time and expenses for Trustees, for which you can use higher rates such as their standard wage per hour if they are willing to share that.
    2. the number of users of your services, the help given and the impact
  4. Use questionnaires with service users about the impact the service provided has had on them.
  5. Use focus groups with current and potential service users to record demand for services and the impact current services are providing.
  6. Use case studies, such as:
    1. If you’ve made an impact on an individual, whether that be helping a Trustee or volunteer to learn or use a new skill or another impact to a service user, have a method for recording it. I like to use case study templates for these. NCVO have written an excellent blog on writing case studies.
    2. Use simple video or audio recordings. These are great to use on social media and for driving awareness.
  7. Use trusted secondary data such as government, health authority reports, national statistics, police reports, crime statistics. For example a recent project I worked on called Safe Space keeps people out of A&E on busy weekend evenings, I know from NHS Digital that it costs approximately £4,000 to treat a drunk person in A&E, the project keeps 10 people out of A&E per night, saving approximately £40,000 per night but it only costs approximately £1,000 per night to run.

If you need more guidance, then there are some great tools out there to help you and I would recommend using the following.

  1. Inspiring Impact has created a free simple tool to use to help you demonstrate your impact.
  2. NCVO Know How non profit have created a great guide on demonstrating your impact.
  3. The Charities Evaluation service has created a tool kit called “Does Your Money Make a Difference?“.

If you want help in measuring your impact or reading over a grant application before you submit it then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We can read your application and provide feedback, which is a cost effective way to access our expertise and experience.

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