We all know capturing social impact is difficult, especially when you’re developing new models and trying new approaches. That’s how we all justify spending so long talking about it ;-)
If you’re working with a consistent cohort of individuals over a significant period of time then you can roll out all the nice traditional pre and post measures to track their progress. But, real life’s not generally like that. If you’re working with hard to reach clients sporadically or intermittently, how do you go about capturing and assessing the impact of the work?
One of the difficult things about working on Skype or Google Hangout is that it strips us of the social cues that normally oil the wheels of good conversation, that little lean forward, opening of the mouth, intake of breath before someone interjects. (If these social cues don't mean anything to you then you are either spending way too much time online, or bereft of social skills. Either way stop reading this and go and talk to someone immediately)
One of the things we've been exploring at Nominet Trust is how do you replicate a natural flow of conversion when working on video conferencing that just isn't subtle enough to pick up on these?
One of the questions that should keep any funder awake at night is: are we doing the best that can be done with the money?
Answering this naturally leads any funder to ask how do we measure our success?
On one level they can obviously reflect on the work of the projects they fund or partner with. After all, a core measure of success is what happens with the money. But in a wider sense, funders work in different ways and so to understand their effectiveness there has to be an understanding of the strengths or weaknesses of their funding model. For example, are they all about supporting the continuation of work by existing organisations? Or are they an early stage investor who tries to get new ideas off the ground? In this case, how do you measure success when you're starting up new projects?
You, like me, probably think of archiving as towers of dusty books locked away in a bomb proof basement somewhere, solely of interest to aged historians. You might also think that this is a long way from the world of open data, however today I’ve discovered that they may be inextricably linked.
This is all thanks to Andrew Cooper, Research Manager at The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund who held a fantastic event today with Jack Meyers, President of the Rockefeller Archive Centre to talk about archiving in foundations.
Well the dust is only beginning to settle on the Opening Doors conference on Open Data last week, and we’re beginning to bring together all the learning from the day.
We had a great opening session with Karl Wilding (Head of Research and Policy at NCVO) throwing down the gauntlet and asking why we should really be interested in open data at all – how can it help charities? Dan Sutch, Head of Development Research here at Nominet Trust, starting to answer that question by highlighting how developments in technology map on to an historical strength of charities in trying to improve how we address social challenges (including an example from 1854 http://understandinguncertainty.org/coxcombs).
I love evidence based interventions. In fact if I am arguing with my girlfriend about something other than the washing up, one of the first things I do is ask, what’s the evidence for that? (Which I am sure makes me an absolute joy to live with).
In my last post, The quest for the holy metric? I argued that the heart of the shared measurement issue in social development is not an evaluation problem, it’s a translation problem. What we really want to know is how can I translate the social value that I have captured into a language that you understand so that you value the work too?
“The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them”
There has been a lot of talk in the sector recently around developing common and shared approaches to measurement. Of course I am supportive of this if it enables a better understanding of social change and ultimately improves our work.