What do we mean by great service delivery? It’s more than simply turning up and doing the things you are funded to do, or that your donors have given you money for. Great service delivery equals impact; which is where you actually change someone’s life for the better.
Have you noticed that following each funding round, the funder issues a statement apologizing to those that missed out. In almost every funding round there will be more organisations applying than can be funded. The difference between those that are funded and those that are not, is the ability of the former to tell a great story about the impact they create. This is why great service delivery, and therefore great impact is important.
When you can talk about the impact you create, when you can talk about how your service delivery changes lives, you have a powerful message; one that appeals to donors and funding bodies. The same message helps you attract employees, volunteers and board members.
Measuring and identifying impact has always been problematic for social agencies and charities. It is easier to report on inputs. When reporting back to funding bodies you will be asked to report on inputs. If you have been funded for a full time worker to provide a service for four families, then that is what you will be asked to report upon. It is unlikely your funding will be designed to include an evaluation process.
The issue here is that when you apply for funding or for a grant and all that you report upon is your inputs, then your application reads the same as many others. You are not giving the funding body or donor a reason to support you.
Does it need to be difficult to identify the impact of your service delivery? It isn’t difficult, it doesnt need to be expensive but it does require some additional work.
Prior to starting a program or service delivery, your team should meet and identify what impact would look like. For example, your domestic violence team may identify that families with reduced aggression have increased school attendance. This then allows those involved in service delivery to ask questions and determine school attendance at the beginning. You have a baseline for improvement.
Later on, when service delivery is at an advanced stage, or due for completion, the same question can be asked. How many days are the kids absent from school? If the days away from school have reduced, then you have both an outcome and impact.
Recently I helped an organisation host a job expo. At the end of the expo we were able to identify the number of participating vendors (input) plus the number of people attending (output) plus the number of people successful in obtaining employment (impact).
There is another reason why great service and impact is important. When you gather stories about how your service has helped to change people’s lives you have great marketing content. Within the bounds of privacy, these stories can be shared as a part of your marketing – over and over again. As shown in the Four Step Model, aggressive marketing of your service impact helps you to build your family of supporters.
I’m John Coxon and for the past two decades I have been providing advice and guidance to management teams in nonprofit organisations. If you would like help with establishing impact measurement for your service delivery email me.