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Opinion and CommentTools

Books and Guides

NPC believes in impact measurement as a way for charities and funders to increase their effectiveness. It helps organisations improve what they do and deliver the best results for their beneficiaries. NPC’s four pillar approach by Anne Kazimirski and David Pritchard provides clear and practical guidance on developing an impact measurement framework.

Published by: , , 2014


This paper by Angela Kail and Tris Lumley from NPC explores what is a Theory of Change and how it can be used for strategy, evaluation and understanding outcomes.

Published by: , , 2012


The stories charities and social enterprises tell about the difference they make can engage, inform and inspire stakeholders. Clearly communicating the impact of your work is important. This document, developed for the sector, by the sector, offers a guide to help you think about how you should communicate your impact, and what you should communicate. This document sets out principles of good impact reporting, to help charities and social enterprises tell their own story about impact.

By using these principles to demonstrate their impact, charities and social enterprises can have a strong influence on how they are perceived. They can help to shift the prevailing focus away from concerns about administration costs or chief executives’ salaries, and towards what really matters: the difference they make in people’s lives.

The Little Blue Book, by Belinda Vernon and John Copps is NPC’s concise and practical guide to analysing charities, for charities and funders. The guide contains examples of how charities and funders benefit from analysis, and explains NPC’s charity analysis framework, which looks at how charities can assess their effectiveness in six areas:

– Activities: Do the charity’s activities address a genuine need?
– Results: Can it demonstrate results of what it has achieved?
– Leadership: Do trustees and management provide high quality leadership?
– People and resources: Does it use staff, volunteers and resources well?
– Finances: Are the finances sound?
– Ambition: Is it ambitious to solve social problems?

Case Studies

This publication from CFG, NPC and ACEVO, is not a ‘how-to’ guide. The publication aims to bring the Principles of Good Impact Reporting to life through first-hand accounts and case studies from a range of charities and social enterprises that believe in the importance of demonstrating their impact. It offers some perspectives, tips and advice from stakeholders across the sector.

In 2012, the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) commissioned NPC as part of a pioneering project to explore how providers can better measure the effectiveness of their work to rehabilitate offenders.

Published by: , , 2012


This report, by Benedict Rickey, Eibhlin Ni Ogain, Tris Lumley from NPC, draws on six charities that are at the forefront of impact measurement in the UK to show that impact measurement is both worthwhile and possible. These case studies and findings will be useful for those who are trying to make the case for impact measurement, those who want to set up or improve a measurement system and those who want to help charities measure their impact well.

Published by: , , 2011


Event Reports

In September 2011, 30 leaders in the field of social impact measurement came convened at an Impact Summit, where they discussed how to embed impact measurement throughout the UK social sector. This report by Benedict Rickey and Tris Lumley from NPC, and Matthew Pike from View, sets out the results of that discussion. It sows the seeds for the development of Inspiring Impact.

External Databases and Resources

Proving and Improving is a quality and impact toolkit for charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprise for exploring practical ways to measure their impacts and demonstrate the quality of what they do and how they operate.

Tools include AA1000AS, The Big Picture, Co-operativesUK, CESPIs, DTA Fit for Purpose, Eco-mapping, EFQM Model, EMAS, GRI Guidelines, Investors in People, ISO 9001:2008, Local Multiplier 3, PQASSO, Prove It!, Quality First, SIMPLE, Social Accounting, S.E Balanced Scorecard, SROI, Star Social Firm, Third Sector Performance Dashboard, Volunteering Impact Assessment Toolkit.

Proving and Improving is supported by Charities Evaluation Services’ National Performance Programme, which is funded by Capacitybuilders’ and is led by Charities Evaluation Services (CES) in partnership with acevo, the New Economics Foundation (nef), New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) and Voice4Change England.

Opinion and Comment

In his lecture at the the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), NPC’s chief executive Dan Corry explains how charitable organisations must spearhead innovation and effectiveness to increase their ability to drive change in society.

Published by: , , 2014


Tris Lumley from NPC discusses the challenges of impact measurement and how the technical aspects of impact and measurement (which outcomes should we focus on? how can we measure them? what tools and systems should we use to measure them?) can be overcome by good leadership.

Published by: , , 2013

Tris Lumley Head of Development at NPC and trustee of SIAA talks about embedding impact measurement in practice.

This collection of think pieces was produced by the ImpACT Coalition in the UK. The ImpACT Coalition is a movement of over 400 voluntary sector organisations that seek to improve accountability and transparency in the charity sector, and increase public understanding of how charities work


The Journey to EmploymenT (JET) framework from Inspiring Impact helps organisations that work with young people understand and measure the impact they have on the journey to employment.

Working Papers and Research

Smart social investment can bring money to address some of our most enduring social problems. But the pressure is on to prove that these results are achieved. This paper by Iona Joy from NPC shares lessons learnt so far and builds on NPC’s experience in the social sector to suggest how we might achieve better impact measurement for social investment in the future.

This report from Inspiring Impact and NPC reviews developments in shared measurement following the publication of Inspiring Impact’s Blueprint for shared measurement and presents our framework for assessing if a sector is an appropriate candidate for shared measurement.

The framework sets criteria, including indicators of drivers and barriers to shared measurement, that can be used to review and grade sectors based on three core factors:

– the sector and its infrastructure;
– current evidence and measurement approaches; and
– the momentum for shared measurement.

This paper from NPC examines the evolution of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) from the perspective of providers and sector experts.

SIBs have evolved enormously since the first one was rolled out with HMP Peterborough in 2010. Today, they provoke mixed reactions, and strong criticisms from some quarters. But overall, charities and social enterprises providing services unders SIBs believe that they deliver strong outcomes for beneficiaries.

Charities are well placed to exploit specialist knowledge in some areas of service delivery. And, while facing a number of hurdles, this paper argues that charities should seriously consider working alone or in coalition to develop their own SIB proposals, and direct government policy towards delivering more effective interventions on behalf of beneficiaries. Charities are also in a unique position to influence the way SIBs are developed and used in the future.

From David Cameron to Ban Ki-moon, Dr Anthony Seldon to Professor Richard Layard, many agree that encouraging well-being is a priority. But what is its role in public policy, particularly with regards to young people? How can we measure progress on such a subjective issue? And what does data on well-being tell us about how girls and boys are faring?

This paper from NPC looks to answer some of these questions and shares new data, with the aim of bringing fresh insight into how to understand and measure the impact of interventions designed to improve the well-being of children in the UK.

Social impact bonds have attracted much attention in recent years. But there is a concern that there is a limited number of investors prepared to supply the capital for future bonds. Allia developed its Future for Children (FfC) bond to test the retail market’s appetite for investing in a social impact bond. The bond was structured around a social programme to help children on the edge of care. NPC evaluated the bond, and the results of the evaluation are detailed in this report.

Eibhlin Ni Ogain, Lucy de Las Casas, Marina Svistak co authored this publication from NPC’s work on Inspiring Impact. The report is about shared measurement, which involves charities working towards similar goals reaching a common understanding of what to measure, and developing the tools to do so. The report discusses the benefits and challenges associated with shared measurement, and through analysis of twenty approaches, examine how it is developed and draw lessons for future initiatives.

Published by: & , , 2013


This report by Eibhlin Ni Ogain, Sarah Hedley and Tris Lumley presents the new suite of tools to help social investors, and those seeking social investment, that Big Society Capital commissioned using a team comprising NPC, the SROI Network and Investing for Good with the aim to embed a robust approach to impact in their work.

The tools presented here are:

– An outcomes matrix, which segments outcomes within the social welfare and environment arenas into 13 outcome areas.
– Outcomes maps, which drill into the detail of the outcomes matrix, providing overviews of the key outcomes, indicators and data sources commonly used in each of the 13 areas.
– Guidance on investor best practice.

Charities and commissioners increasingly see collaboration as a way to access new funding, grow and improve services. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. To avoid the risks, charities need to understand what makes collaboration a success. NPC and Impetus have joined forces to explore collaboration because they believe it has the potential to improve the sector’s collective impact. This report by Angela Kail and Rob Abercrombie highlights some of the less talked-about issues that connect collaboration with social impact.

Making an impact by David Pritchard, Eibhlin Ni Ogain and Tris Lumley from NPC, offers the first representative picture of the UK charity sector’s response to the challenge of impact measurement. NPC surveyed 1,000 charities with incomes over £10,000 to understand what has changed in charities’ impact measurement practices, the drivers behind measuring impact, and the benefits and challenges that it brings.The report identifies steps to be taken to improve the practice of impact measurement, fund impact measurement itself, advise charities on how to use the data, advance policy and facilitate shared outcome frameworks.

This report, by Hannah Pavey, Sarah Hedley, Tris Lumley from NPC, explores how and if funders help their grantees to monitor and evaluate the work they do. Most grant-making trusts and foundations recognise the importance of monitoring and evaluation, and are keen for the charities they fund to assess the outcomes they achieve. But how many funders actively help their grantees do this? It is still quite rare for funders to offer charities support on measuring impact—research conducted by
New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) has shown that few funders consistently provide monitoring and evaluation support, and one
in three never do.

Published by: , , 2011


This report by Joe Ludlow (2010 Clore Social Fellow) and Belinda Vernon for NPC provides a framework in which to think about the importance of links between the activities of different charities in achieving positive outcomes. It aims to encourage thinking beyond the the boundaries of a single organisation.

It argues that:

– Charities benefit from understanding the impact networks in which they operate, and their roles within those networks.
– Charities can improve the delivery of outcomes by working with their impact networks to collaborate, to identify gaps and reduce waste.
– Larger charities and funders have distinct, important roles in making impact networks work effectively.

Many charities are very good at telling people about what they do—their outputs. But often, they struggle to translate this into what their work is actually achieving. How have their activities led to tangible changes in the lives of those they seek to help? NPC’s report by Eibhlin Ni Ogain, Jane Thomas, Mathilde Williams, Sarah Hedley, Sarah Keen and Tris Lumley looks at how charities in the UK talk about impact, and provides advice on good impact reporting.

The report details NPC’s analysis of the annual reports, annual reviews, impact reports and websites of 20 of the top 100 UK fundraising charities, highlighting examples of good practice, and offer advice for charities wishing to take the report’s findings on board, and take practical steps towards communicating what matters, in the most effective way possible.

Published by: , , 2010