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  • Writer's pictureMartha Cox

Assessing the impact of what you do.

Most organisations will, sooner or later, be asked to measure and demonstrate the impact of what they do on people who use their services, the staff who work for them and the wider community. Often it is a key piece of information required by funding and accreditation bodies.

Why is assessing your impact crucial? (aside from satisfying funders). Because if you have deep and ongoing knowledge about what the impact of what you are doing is on those who are affected by it (either because they receive your services directly, work for you or are part of your local community) then you can make adjustments and changes accordingly. The final result should then be happier and more motivated staff, a more engaged, trusting and collaborative relationship with people who use your services and the wider community and therefore a more effectively functioning organisation.

The importance of monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning

Tracking the effectiveness of community responses to collaboration and co-production projects and adjusting as necessary is critical to understanding the impact of what you’re doing. The quality of the data you are collecting is key to ensuring you have accurate information about what is going on.

Key questions for you to consider are:

  • Is your project, service, proposal or new development impacting, or likely to impact, different groups or communities in different ways?

  • Impacts can be positive or negative - consider both.

  • Are any of these impacts on access to services? Health? Relationships? Wellbeing?

It’s important to share the information you have found with other stakeholders (staff, users of services, local communities) to support changes that minimise any negative impacts and to increase positive impacts. Getting community buy-in will be key to your success.

There are two processes you could use to assess the impact of what you’re proposing:

Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA) is a process designed to ensure that a policy, project or development does not unlawfully discriminate against people who are members of a protected category as defined in the Equality Act 2010.

Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is a methodology to review the social effects of infrastructure projects and other developments.

Qualitative versus quantitative

Assess people’s experience of services through qualitative (eg discussions, user stories) and quantitative (eg data from surveys) ways. Deeper and ongoing conversations with communities will help you to understand what is going on for them and enable you to listen and understand their suggestions for improvement.

Responsiveness to feedback.

Use trusted community channels to inform people about what you are doing with the information you have received about people’s experience of your services. In other words, let staff, users of services and the wider community know about what you have learnt from listening and what you are doing about it. This is commonly known throughout the health, and other sectors, as ‘You Said, We Did’ and can help to build trust, mutual co-operation and collaboration.

Share your learning

  • share feedback, learning, successes and failures with communities, stakeholders and others to encourage innovation and learning from each other.

  • set up review and monitoring matrix systems to ensure you can monitor your impact over time and not just as a one off.

  • triangulate all the information you gather from existing feedback and other sources eg complaints, health and safety incidents, HR.

  • Set up mechanisms to assess trends.

  • Set up regular review meetings.

  • Think about who you are accountable to and what information they require.

This is just a brief overview of issues to consider when assessing impact. If you would like to find out more and need help with assessing the impact of your services on those who use them then contact me on 07913257971 or email me at

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