This Dictionary of Indicators is aimed at social-purpose organisations looking to develop their own impact measurement systems, and accompanies the Guidelines for How to Measure and Report Social Impact. While the Guidelines provide a framework for building an impact measurement system, the Dictionary is a supporting reference tool for th<e distinct task of choosing indicators. Indicators are the specific points relating to an organisation’s work which are used to track positive social or environmental impact. Impact is rarely accounted for by a single indicator, but can be broken down into constituent aspects of impact, to which indicators can be assigned. Information from these indicators is then used to build a tangible, meaningful, and evidenced picture of the benefits achieved.
Charities work incredibly hard, so it is no surprise that they can sometimes be so focused on their day-to-day activities that they lose sight of what they are trying to achieve. When they do try to think about their goals or try to measure their impact, they can struggle. A theory of change can help charities to refocus, weigh up their priorities and begin to measure their impact, ultimately getting more out of their resources to help more people. A theory of change shows a charity’s path from needs to activities to outcomes to impact. It describes the change you want to make and the steps involved in making that change happen. Theories of change also depict the assumptions that lie behind your reasoning, and where possible, these assumptions are backed up by evidence.