by Angela Wu and Jill Carman, Consultants at Aleron

It is common for organisations to overlook their wider impact beyond their beneficiaries and on other organisations and the extended community. Capturing wider impact and knock-on effects is important and can help you understand the real value of your work.

Many charities are starting to see the benefits of measuring their impact within a bigger network. Most social sector organisations operate in a complex network of influence, and ‘making an impact’ on a beneficiary often cannot be attributed to any single organisation. With this in mind, we encourage charities to think big when measuring impact.

In our experience, there are many benefits for organisations that embrace network impact. This approach can help organisations achieve economies of scale, build a community of practice about what works best for their sector, and make a compelling case for funding.

There are lots of practical ways an organisation can think about its network impact. A simple way to start may be getting agreement within a sector on shared impact goals, for example through developing a sector-wide theory of change. Organisations could also collaborate on a shared measurement tool, or regularly meet to discuss best practice within the sector and compare results. Or when it comes to reporting, why not team up to produce a joint impact report with another organisation working with the same beneficiaries? Think of network impact as an extra set of tools to add to your existing toolbox for measuring impact: you can pick and choose which ones you need for the task at hand.

We have identified 7 key ingredients for effective measurement of network impact, which are shown in the diagram below.

We will be hosting a discussion on network impact on the 1st of December 2016, click here to find out more.