Helping you understand, measure
and communicate your Social Impact
You only get one chance to tell your story so make the most of it.

2015: An Impactful Year for Charities in Northern Ireland

As the working year draws to a close and the pile of mince pies in the office kitchen grows bigger, we thought we’d take a reflective look back at what has truly been an impactful year for the third sector in Northern Ireland.
 
Charities haven’t been far from the national headlines this year, unfortunately too often for all the wrong reasons. The high profile Kids Company closure and the sad death of poppy seller Olive Cooke meant that charity governance and fundraising tactics were called into question in the media. 
 

New era for charities in Northern Ireland

2015 has seen the third sector in Northern Ireland make strides towards putting clear reporting on the true impact of the great work being done at the heart of the industry. The new regulatory body for charities here, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, is in the process of registering all charities and will be rolling out new, mandatory reporting requirements from next year. As of September 2015 there were 2,500 charities registered with the commission, but that figure is expected to reach between 8,000 – 10,000 when all registrations are complete. 
 
This represents a huge shift in what is required of charities in terms of reporting and will require time and resources to be devoted to fully understanding and complying with the regulations. No doubt this will come with its own teething problems, however hopefully what we will end up with is a well regulated industry which allows easy access for the public on the status and impact of charities they chose to support.
 
At Gauge we are in the process of planning a workshop event along with Harbinson Mulholland and Edwards & Co. for the New Year which will provide professional guidance for charities around the new reporting requirements, further information and booking for the event will be available shortly.
 
Impact Measurement
 
The first phase of the Inspiring Impact NI programme came to a close in 2015, with the second phase ready to kick off in January 2016. Inspiring Impact is a UK wide initiative which aims to change the way community and voluntary sector organisations think about the impact of their work. In Northern Ireland the programme, being delivered by Building Change Trust, began in September 2014 with 13 network and umbrella organisation funded up to £15k to develop and deliver support to member organisations to embed impact measurement into their organisation.
 
The message to come out of phase one was ‘There’s no silver bullet for impact measurement’ – it is a long term commitment that requires changes to internal processes, time and resources devoted  to ingraining impact measurement into the organisation. This significant programme is another positive step towards ensuring that organisations imbed impact measurement in all they do and go into their programmes focused on how they will know they have achieved their goals.
 
Gauge NI Delivering Impact 
 
It has been a busy year for us at Gauge NI – we’ve taken on new staff and associates and worked on some really interesting evaluation and research projects. You can take a look through our recent work such as the Youth Engagement Programme, Niacro and Nexus here. 
 
As well as carrying out evaluation work, one our aims at Gauge is to educate and inspire organisations in all sectors to better understand why they should be measuring their impact and how they can go about it. This year we were pleased to deliver a number of free workshops aimed at adding to the conversation around impact – including one as part of the Podiem ‘Social enterprise means business with a purpose’ series and our own ‘Measuring the impact of your ESF project’ workshop.
 
We’re looking forward to carrying on the conversation around impact and working on some great projects in 2016. In the meantime we wish all of our colleagues, friends and clients a very Merry Christmas and a happy and impactful 2016! 
 
 
Call us: 028 9043 6400
Gauge NI: 15-17 Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 4GN