Do you want to increase the impact of your projects? – Ten questions to ask

Increasingly charities are investing time and resources in measuring their impact. However too often measuring is used to demonstrate current impact, obscuring a more fundamental issue – how can charities ensure their projects and services are maximising their impact? We believe that the aim of measurement should be to increase a charities’ future impact.

The way to ensure a project maximises and increases its impact lies in its design and delivery. Funders and charities know that investing in projects that have not been well designed or implemented risks under-performance, wasted resources and duplicated effort.

However it is not always easy to determine whether projects have been effectively designed to deliver maximum impact, or to identify which aspects of the project need to be amended to increase impact.

Just as there are approaches to measure current impact, there are tried and tested approaches to measure the effectiveness of the process an organisation uses to design and implement projects. Previously we have helped to develop a diagnostic tool for The National Audit Office to ensure projects run by government departments delivered more impact through improved project design and working practices.

Drawing on this experience Fiveways has developed a new, practical diagnostic tool which enables charities and funders to assess their activities against the key characteristics of an effective project.

The Increasing Impact tool looks for over twenty specific pieces of evidence grouped under six assessment areas (Direction, Audience Focus, Delivery Model, Learning and Improvement, Leadership, and Financial Viability). It provides an independent diagnosis of the likely effectiveness of projects and recommendations for how they can be made more effective.

To gather the evidence here are some of the key questions posed by the tool that we feel should be asked about any project.

1. Is the specific challenge the project seeks to address clear?
2. Does the project have a clear overall objective, including a baseline measurement?
3. Is the audience for the project clearly defined?
4. Is there a clear understanding of the audience’s perspective and need?
5. Has the project learnt from its past experience and that of others?
6. What evidence exists that the delivery model represents a feasible solution to the challenge?
7. Is there a thorough, properly resourced evaluation plan?
8. Do those delivering the project have the appropriate skills, capacity and resources to succeed?
9. Is it clear how much money will be spent and when?
10. Is there a thorough risk management plan?

If you are a charity looking to increase your impact, or a funder seeking to select projects to support, or improve the performance of projects you are already funding, please contact us to find out more about how you can benefit from the Increasing Impact tool.