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Impact measurement practice in the UK third sector: a review of emerging evidence

Harlock, Jenny (2013) Impact measurement practice in the UK third sector: a review of emerging evidence. Working Paper. University of Birmingham, Birmingham.


URL of Published Version: http://www.tsrc.ac.uk/Research/EconomicandSocialImpact/ImpactmeasurementpracticeintheUKthirdsector/tabid/1027/Default.aspx


This paper reviews emerging evidence about how the UK third sector is measuring its performance and impact. Impact measurement has become an increasingly important activity for third sector organisations in recent years, yet impact – and how to measure it – remain contested issues in policy, research and practice. By examining what we think we know about how third sector organisations undertake impact measurement and identifying areas for further research, this paper therefore aims to contribute to the ongoing discussion and debate about whether, and how, organisations should measure their impact.
This review examines five key questions: how is impact and its measurement understood in existing research, policy and practice? what do we know about who is undertaking impact measurement in the sector? why are organisations measuring their impact? what practices and approaches organisations are using to measure impact? and key challenges and implications of impact measurement for the sector. Research on impact measurement is at an early stage, and has thus far tended to be boosterist in nature; nevertheless this review reveals a growing concern that requirements and demands for impact data from third sector funders are taking precedence over the requirements and needs of beneficiaries and service users. In this context, approaches which focus on organisational learning are being developed from within the third sector.

Type of Work:Monograph (Working Paper)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Third Sector Research Centre

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Date:01 July 2013
Series/Collection Name:TSRC Working Paper Series
Keywords:Impact, performance, social impact, social value, third sector.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Related URLs:
Funders:Economic and Social Research Council, Office for Civil Society, Barrow Cadbury Trust
Copyright Holders:Third Sector Research Centre
ID Code:1800

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