Talking measurement at the Social Impact Festival

Social Impact Festival 2017

It’s an exciting few weeks for social impact in Perth with the Social Impact Festival now in full swing. 

The festival, hosted by CSI, kicked off on Tuesday (17 July) with an inspiring opening ceremony that brought the festival themes of Land, Place and Home to life with artistic performances and inspiring speakers.

On Wednesday morning (18 July), SVA presented the ‘Back to Basics – Beyond Funding and Reporting’ session, one of two sessions on outcomes management that SVA is presenting at the festival. Led by Gillian Turnbull and Shiri Leventhal from SVA, the session challenged participants to think about outcomes measurement as more than just a tool for reporting and securing more funding, but as a tool for evaluating, learning and improving their programs and services.

The audience, a mix of service providers and funding organisations, discussed some of the challenges plaguing the sector when it comes to outcomes measurement, including limited funding for it (as highlighted in the recent CSI Bankwest report), as well as confusion on what and more importantly, how to measure outcomes. This means that funding M&E is unlikely to be a fix all; organisational needs must be addressed holistically.

Gillian and Shiri shared SVA’s approach to outcomes measurement, demystified terminology, and provided examples of different methods and tools available. Their key message to the group was that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to outcomes measurement. An organisation running a small scale program and not planning to scale up significantly will have very different measurement needs in terms of audience, purpose and rigour as compared to one seeking to influence a broader advocacy agenda.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to outcomes measurement.

In closing, they stressed there are challenges for both sides, funders and service providers, but that it takes a partnership approach to deliver meaningful outcomes measurement. Funders, they suggested, need to take a more active role in trying to understand the challenges facing the organisations they are supporting, while service delivery organisations need to be more transparent and honest with their funders. By doing so, they can improve service delivery and outcomes for the people they are both trying to support.

The Social Impact Festival is running through Friday 28 July in Perth with sessions covering a range of topics. SVA’s next session will be a Golden Thread Workshop on Wednesday 26 July.