Why do it? The benefits of proving and improving
Good planning, monitoring, and evaluation can help you to know when and how you are accomplishing your social, environmental, or economic mission.
Making good decisions
Clarifying the ways your organisation achieves its objectives and knowing the effects it is having on the wider world can help you make better decisions such as where to allocate resources.
Getting people involved keeps you on track
Keeping connected to the people your organisation affects, or is affected by, helps you to ensure that your time, resources, and energy are spent well. When people help to measure or evaluate the effects of something they’ve been involved in, they can see change for themselves and take part in celebrating it. Transparent reporting can elicit help from your stakeholders in meeting the challenges your organisation faces.
Being accountable: earning and building trust
Socially driven organisations have a responsibility to the communities they serve and affect. Communication and transparency are important elements in building a relationship of mutual trust and understanding. Undertaking an intentional process of proving and improving can help you to report your progress to the people whose trust in your organisation is essential.
Reporting on the areas where you are succeeding, as well as areas for improvement and how these will be addressed keeps your stakeholders informed and can allow them to feel part of the process or to directly feed into the process.
Building a brand and winning business
By identifying the core values and impacts your organisation has, you can develop a brand that speaks to the values of customers, and a marketing strategy that ensures that your products, services and impacts get the attention of potential customers.
Securing investment or funding
Clarifying your goals, setting targets and measuring success for both the sustainability of the organisation and how it achieves social benefit will help you to create realistic and effective business plans and funding proposals.
Case Study – Local economic benefit brings business to local fruit and veg producers in Northumberland
By showing that their businesses produced high quality fruit and vegetables, while also keeping money circulating in local economies, small-scale farmers in Northumberland were able to win contracts that had previously been given to large national suppliers. The LM3 local multiplier tool showed them how to make the case.
Take ownership – and responsibility
While an organisation must take into account the opinions and needs of its stakeholders, too often a single group of stakeholders determine what gets measured, and therefore what gets valued. Knowing what your organisation wants or needs most is probably the most important element in choosing an approach to ‘proving and/or improving’.
The organisation itself – and its stakeholders — can decide what quality looks like and set standards. Or an external body or organisation may set standards. Make some decisions about quality.
- Can you pinpoint a particular area that needs improvement, such as human resources, financial management, or governance?
- Do you have drive and interest in undertaking a holistic process of looking at all of the organisation’s internal processes?
- Is it important to your stakeholders that you have an externally validated mark of quality?
It’s essential to know that your activities are having the effects you intend, and are helping to achieve your organisation’s mission. The decisions to make are:
- What social, environmental or economic results from our activities, if we were not accomplishing them, would prevent us from getting to our organisation’s goal – its mission?
- Therefore, what are the most important things we need to know about?
- Do we already demonstrate that these things are really happening, or measure to what extent they are happening? Do we need to start now?
- Are there other things that are essential for us to know about – such as the unexpected positive and negative effects of our activities or the way we operate our organisation?
Use ‘windows of opportunity’ to your advantage
There are points in your organisation’s lifecycle where using proving and improving initiatives can be particularly useful: times of change. But whether your organisation is at a ‘window of opportunity’ or there is simply a strong desire to ‘prove’ or ‘improve’ it is important that there is commitment and energy within the organisation to move the process forward.
What resources do you have?
Quality systems, impact measurement, and other ways of proving and improving will use resources in the following areas:
- Leadership. Someone must take responsibility for leading the initiative within the organisation.
- Time to involve stakeholders. In any proving or improving process you are likely to want to consult your stakeholders in some way.
- Cost of materials, support, or courses. These can be considerable for some of the more complex or holistic approaches.
Choose your tool or approach from the full range of options
There are many resources that can help plan, monitor and evaluate outcomes and impacts. Each tool meets a need or a range of needs.
Go to Tools for more information.
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