Measuring the big impact that small charities have

20 June 2024
For this year’s Small Charity Week, our Community Support Delivery Manager, Carole Roberts, delves into the tricky topic of impact measurement. She writes:

Over the past few months, our community support team has been busy reviewing and refreshing our skills and knowledge around measuring impact.

Why? Because small charities are asking for our support with this – whether for funding applications, annual reporting or to help with developing new activities.

We all know that small charities across North Yorkshire can have a big impact and for this year’s Small Charity Week I thought I would share some of the effective questions that can help measure the impact of the charities you are involved with, with a challenge to give it a go.

Asking these questions of your communities – be that staff, volunteers, trustees or beneficiaries – should open up conversations and give you real evidence of the difference you are making.

See how you get on, inserting your charity’s name where I have used our fictional ‘Village Volunteers’.

  • Since you got involved with ‘Village Volunteers’ what, if anything, has changed about how you feel about yourself and your life?
  • Why have things changed? What is it about ‘Village Volunteers’ that has helped this happen?
  • Have these changes impacted anyone else, for example family members? If so, who has it affected and how?
  • Since you got involved with ‘Village Volunteers’, have any other things in your life helped or got in the way of where you want to get to – for example, children, supportive partner or poor health? If so please give details.
  • What would have happened if you hadn’t been involved with ‘Village Volunteers’? For example, how would you feel about yourself? What would you be doing?

The answers can help with many aspects of running a small charity; showing you what is effective (do more of) and how you contribute to changing people’s lives. You may also discover how your work adds value and contributes to wider changes in people’s lives. You could record the answers, summarise them or just make mental notes to use at a later date.

People in small charities are change-makers and know they are making a huge difference. But measuring this in a more formal way can be daunting, time-consuming and often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. Embedding some of these questions into your day-to-day work could be one method of hearing about the impact on those around you.

Meanwhile, look out for the support we are developing this autumn to help small charities develop their impact measurement. In the meantime, if you need a bit of a hand with measuring your impact now, do get in touch.