Ready for impact

WRITTEN BY Local Partnerships
Picture: Julie McEver
POSTED ON 6th July 2015

Social impact is the effect of an activity on the social fabric of the community and well-being of individuals and families. For any business, whether social enterprise, public sector or commercial organisation, being able to articulate the impact it creates is a valuable asset. The Social Value Act (2012), requires commissioners of public services to consider securing added economic, social or environmental benefits for their local area through their contracts.

Social impact and the underlying theory of change are key considerations in the business planning cycle and help drive the commercial development of enterprises.
Recognising the importance of this, the Cabinet Office and Social Investment Business, established a once-off Impact Readiness Fund of £1.5 million. Social enterprises were invited to apply to the fund with an approved provider. The aim was to improve their understanding of impact and the systems that can be used to demonstrate impact. Although the fund was highly oversubscribed, Local Partnerships were successful in bidding to work with five organisations – Bridge, CHUMS, Aspire Wellbeing, Health Inclusion Matters and Xing Education. The projects ran from mid-March to the end of June.

Local Partnerships worked with CHUMS to develop their impact measurement system to ensure it can successfully demonstrate the full impact of its services for children and families. Please read our mini case study here.

Bridge, a drug treatment charity based in Bradford, has a firm understanding of its social impact and its priority was to focus on demonstrating that impact. Our role, focused on supporting them to develop a robust system for recording outcomes. We identified a technology service provider who could understand the venture’s needs and work with it to streamline reporting systems. In addition to helping the organisation identify essential outcome measures, we facilitated the work with the technology company and provided project assurance. We also helped the enterprise ensure that their plans for impact assessment work continue after July.

The other four social enterprises were at similar stages: they understood what impact was, but did not know how or what impact they generated. We were aware of the time constraints, how quickly we needed to move the ventures forward and the need to agree very specific deliverables.

We decided to bring the ventures together within a workshop setting, where we introduced the concepts of impact measurement and encouraged peer learning and review. This forum provided the opportunity to develop one set of materials and templates. Our key activities included:

-reviewing service lines
-developing a theory of change
-facilitating engagement with key stakeholders
-mapping evidence, such as KPIs and other data sources, that demonstrate impact
-identifying whether data systems need to be developed to capture and report on outcomes effectively

We have had positive feedback from the ventures about the value of this work and, importantly, the organisations are already using their understanding of social impact in their responses to tenders.

To find out more about how we can work with you to understand the social impact of your organisation, please contact Julie McEver at

⬆️ Strategic Director Martin Forbes writes for the MJ about levelling up and how to negotiate the challenges ahead. Join members of our bid review team for a webinar on 13 December to look at these issues further. Register here:


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