Measuring and managing social impact to improve well-being in North Wales
Blog post authored by Eleri Lloyd, Mantell Gwynedd
Why do we gather data? Is it to satisfy our funders? Is it to simply tick boxes off of a to-do list? Or is it to help us to make better decisions for the people that matter the most to our organisations?
Our journey with social value started in 2014 when we identified the need to demonstrate changes that we were making in people’s lives through our projects, and not just measuring the bums on seats as was the convention. As an umbrella organisation for the third sector in Gwynedd, North Wales, we also realised how important this learning would be for the whole sector.
In partnership with all six County Voluntary Councils in North Wales, and funded by the Big Lottery, we are working with third sector organisations with aims to:
- support organisations to measure their impact allowing staff and board members to make informed decisions based on having valuable and revealing data
- demonstrate how projects and services are contributing to the national objectives included in two recent pieces of legislation that look at the well-being of the Welsh population
In Wales, we have the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 as well as the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. The new legislation provides a statutory duty for us to work differently, with individuals and communities at the heart of decision making. Underpinning the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act are seven well-being goals, which are a shared vision of the kind of Wales that people want to create and live in. These are:
- A healthier Wales
- A more equal Wales
- A Wales of cohesive communities
- A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language
- A globally responsible Wales
- A prosperous Wales
- A resilient Wales
The organisations involved in the project are representative of different key target groups identified in the Population Needs assessment as part of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. These include organisations working with veterans, victims of domestic abuse, children and young people, adults with learning and physical disabilities, carers, people living with mental health concerns and many others. A full list of who’s involved is on our website, this ranges from small local charities to national charities operating across Wales and beyond.
During our initial meetings with our organisations we asked why they wanted to be involved with this project. We had concerns that their focus would be mainly on external purposes, such as to get more funding. However, it became clear that they placed just as much importance, if not more, on being able to demonstrate their impact to their clients/beneficiaries, their family members, staff and volunteers. The focus of our project is internal accountability and improving people’s lives by providing trustees with the tools to get meaningful data and then use this data to inform decisions.
However, we will also demonstrate how organisations are contributing or could contribute to the needs identified in the Population Needs Assessment under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 as well as the seven well-being goals as part of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. By also involving commissioners and other decision makers in this conversation, the hope is that we can co-produce a framework of how we present this evidence in the future.
We are just starting on this journey, but we’re excited to be measuring the impact created by these diverse organisations, and then provide them with the systems to manage the information and make better and more informed decisions, ultimately improving people’s well-being.
If you wish to follow Mantell Gwynedd on their social value journey:
Social Value Manager, Mantell Gwynedd