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Embedding Impact: A Roundtable Discussion

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A Roundtable brought together senior staff from 15 social purpose organisations working in different sectors to discuss how to be effective in reliably achieving targeted outcomes and delivering impact. The discussion highlighted the commonality in issues faced, a sense of shared vocabulary and a high level of agreement about the key elements necessary to deliver impact.

Positive impact and effectiveness are core concerns for social purpose organisations. This is being driven by demand from investors and donors for evidence of impact, but also front-line organisations with a desire to maximise their impact. Increasingly it is recognised that whilst external accountability is important, organisations seeking to deliver consistent positive outcomes need to embed systems to measure and manage impact in their business model, strategy, systems and the quality of their services. Funders and commissioners in the UK are increasingly looking for well organised, competent organisations able to marshal their assets for clear social change. The focus is shifting from proving to improving impact. The central question is what is necessary to enable organisations to be effective in reliably achieving targeted outcomes or impact?

A Roundtable discussion, Embedding Impact, hosted by Big Society Capital, aimed to promote dialogue between representatives of different sectors (inclusive business, microfinance, social investors, social enterprise, venture philanthropy, charity) where remarkably similar conversations are taking place about effectiveness, outcomes and impact. Although the relative emphasis placed on commercial viability and profit compared to social value and impact may differ, all of these sectors are grappling with the issue of how to build organisations that are effective in reaching vulnerable or excluded people, developing the products and services that make a difference to their lives, and delivering these with consistency and quality so as ultimately to have a greater impact.

The Roundtable brought together representatives from 15 organisations with significant experience in this field (see participant list in Annex). Most were from intermediary organisations (those that work to support front line service delivery organisations or develop sector level resources or collaboration). Two social investors and one front-line organisation were also present. The three hour discussion confirmed the premise that although coming from different contexts there is a lot of commonality in the issues faced in different sectors, and a sense of shared vocabulary and a high level of agreement about the key elements necessary to deliver impact.

This report summarises this conversation and the annex presents resources available from participating organisations.

Last updated | 
10 September 2013