A lack of funding to measure social impact is preventing the community sector from demonstrating the difference it makes to the lives of Western Australians according to a new report released.
The report, The Future of Outcomes Measurement in the Community Sector in Western Australia, was released by the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia (CSI UWA) in partnership with the Bankwest Foundation.
The report reveals that nine out of ten community organisations report lack of funding as a key barrier to measuring the outcomes of the work they carry out in communities.
Paul Flatau, the Director of CSI UWA, said the vast majority of organisations surveyed knew the importance of assessing the difference they were making, but almost all cited funding as a major barrier to demonstrating their true value.
“The capacity of many organisations to demonstrate the difference they make is severely hampered by funding, as a staggering 90% identified lack of funding or access to resources as the most significant barriers to getting the job done,” he said.
“There is clearly a distinct gap here that needs to be filled. By identifying where that gap is, we’re showing funders exactly where they need to look next to create real social change.”
The report identified five specific areas that need to be addressed in order for outcomes measurement to be fully realised across the community sector in Australia:
Bankwest Head of Community Engagement Craig Spencer said greater collaboration across the community sector would ultimately benefit all Western Australians.
“The mission of the community sector is to make a sustainable difference in people’s lives,” he said.
“But to know whether they are making a difference, all sectors - corporate, government and non-government - will benefit from ensuring community-focused outcomes and objectives are funded and measured effectively,” he said.
Community sector organisations have welcomed the findings of the report. John Berger, the CEO of St Bart’s, a Perth agency assisting the homeless rebuild their lives, said outcome measurement is crucial for everyone working in the sector.
“Outcomes measurement is important for all levels of the organisation – for workers to understand the change that they’re making, for the organisation to evaluate progress against its mission, and for funders to know what their money is getting,” he added.
“Our next goal is to have outcomes measurement recognised in funding contracts as a key activity in program delivery.”
The reportis the sixth in the Bankwest Foundation Social Impact Series and looks at the opportunities, barriers, and challenges faced by community sector organisations in measuring their outcomes and creating and communicating their social impact.
The report is based on the first major Australian survey on outcomes measurement in the community sector. It found that the vast majority of organisations believe that outcomes measurement makes for a more effective organisation, and were indeed already engaged in outcomes measurement activities.
The Bankwest Foundation and the CSI UWA have jointly committed to undertake initiatives in 2017 which support outcomes measurement development in Western Australia.