Lack of Funding Holds Back Impact Measurement

By Andrew Heaton
Image Source: Liverpool City Council

Image Source: Liverpool City Council

A lack of funding aimed directly at measuring social impact is preventing the community sector in Western Australia from demonstrating the extent of its value to the lives of people within that state, the latest report suggests.

Released jointly by the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia (CSI UWA) and the Bankwest Foundation, the report showed that nine out of every ten organisations surveyed cited a lack of funding as a critical barrier toward measuring the outcomes of the work which they carry out in the community.

CSI UWA director Paul Flatau said many organisations were aware of the importance of assessing the impact they were making but were being hampered by a lack of access to resources with regard to the making of these assessments.

“There is clearly a distinct gap here that needs to be filled, Flatau said.

“By identifying where that gap is, we’re showing funders exactly where they need to look next to create real social change.”

John Berger, chief executive officer of Perth based homelessness service St Barts, agrees, saying that his organisation would like to have outcomes measurements recognised in funding contracts as a relevant activity when it comes to program delivery.

Berger says the measurement of outcomes is important in order for funders to know what their money is delivering, management to evaluate progress against its mission and for workers to understand the impact of their efforts.

According to the report:

  • 88 percent of larger organisations ($250k p.a. or more) and 47 percent of smaller organisations measure outcomes of their operations in Western Australia, with more than seven in ten of those who do measure outcomes doing so for all or most of their activities.
  • Key reasons for measuring outcomes included improving services and programs (88 percent), planning and strategy (83 percent) and internal decision making and resource allocation 9(9 percent). Staff appraisal (54 percent) and motivating staff (68 percent) were less important factors whilst external reporting (75 percent), internal reporting (73 percent) and funder requirements (72 percent) were somewhat important.
  • Case studies or interviews was the most common method of impact assessment followed by customer or user satisfaction surveys and questionnaires design by the organisation were also common.

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