December 2017



The Wise Owl Partnership

Online Services for Charities


Welcome to our newsletter " A Word to the Wise",

Whether you are a charity trustee, manager or administrator, or maybe considering setting up a charity, we hope that our newsletter proves a useful read for you.

If you know of anyone else who you think might be interested in our newsletter, or you would just like to brighten their day with our "It's a Hoot" cartoon below, we would love for you to forward it to them.


Making An Impact

Several years ago there was a bit of a buzz about impact reporting, but that seems to have faded into a quiet hum. So was it just another fad, or is there any merit in measuring and reporting on the impact your charity makes?

Good impact reporting can inspire external stakeholders, demonstrating value for money to funders and attracting new support, and can help beneficiaries, staff and volunteers to engage with an organisation. It helps trustees and their teams to focus on results and achieve their vision. If you can establish and explain your charity’s impact, you are more likely to be able to improve the impact it makes.

For these reasons, many take the view that impact assessment is an essential part of running an effective and sustainable organisation. However, there are sceptics that are concerned about the robustness of impact measurement practices, and call into question the consistency of data collection and how impact is measured. There is even a question about what impact reporting actually is.

Detailed frameworks for measuring impact have been developed and a wide range of impact measurement tools are available free to charities. The Principles of Good Impact Reporting and its accompanying guide Principles into Practice has been developed by the Charity Finance Group, Acevo (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) and the think tank New Philanthropy Capital. The publications identify six principles that define what organisations should communicate about their impact:

1) Clear Purpose

Why does your charity exist and what issues are you ultimately trying to tackle?

What changes do you seek and what overall impact do you want to have?

What impact do your stakeholders want to see?

2) Defined Aims

What are your specific long term aims?

How does achieving those aims help you to achieve your overall purpose?

3) Coherent Activities

What activities do you carry out to achieve your aims?

What resources do you use to make these activities happen?

What are the outputs of these activities?

How do your activities help you to achieve your aims and create change?

Are your activities part of a coherent plan?

4) Demonstrated Results

What outcomes and impact are you achieving against your aims?

What impact are you achieving against the overall change you seek?

5) Evidence

How do you know what you are achieving?

Do you have relevant and proportionate evidence of your outcomes and impact?

Are you sharing evidence to back up the claims you make?

Are you seeking feedback, review and input where relevant?

6) Lessons Learned

What are you learning about your work?

How are you communicating what you learn?

How are you improving and changing from what you learn?

What has happened that you didn’t expect (positive and negative)?

Are you allocating resources to best effect?

Whatever your view about the value and effectiveness of measuring and reporting impact, there is no doubt that the Principles of Good Impact Reporting are relevant to setting your charity’s strategy. Even if you decide not to go down the formal impact reporting route, making reference to the principles will help you to prepare your charity’s next business plan and to set out how you will measure the success of your charity.


In The News . . .

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister Theresa May set out her vision for a “Shared Society”, the Government’s role within it and how to transform mental health support. During her speech at the Charity Commission’s annual meeting, she made it clear that working with charities, campaign groups and social enterprises is key to the agenda.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mrs May defined the shared society as “A society that doesn’t just value our individual rights, but focuses rather more on the responsibilities we have to one another; a society that respects the bonds of family, community, citizenship and strong institutions that we share as a union of people and nations; a society with a commitment to fairness at its heart”.

The detail of how the agenda will be delivered is not yet clear, but it is probably safe to assume that it will be more about how existing funds are allocated rather than opening up the taxpayer’s chequebook.

We wait to find out more. . .


Thanks for reading our newsletter, we hope you found it of interest. If you would like to know more about The Wise Owl Partnership and the services we offer, please click on this link to our website.