Impetus-PEF is a charity committed to transforming the lives of 11-24 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds by ensuring they get the support they need to succeed in education, and find and keep jobs. We do this by finding the most promising charities and social enterprises working with these children and young people. Over time, and through a combination of management support, pro-bono expertise, and strategic funding, we help them become highly effective organisations that transform lives. Only then do we help them expand significantly so as to dramatically increase the number of young people they serve.
Over the last decade and a half much has been written about, and much money spent on, ‘capacity-building’ charities so that they may make more impact on beneficiaries. Almost without exception, this has focused primarily on helping organisations grow in scale, reaching more people and operating in more locations. Size, or lack of it, is agreed to be what holds charities back. But what if it not just size, but also – perhaps even primarily – performance? A charity should exist to be as effective as it possibly can be in tackling its chosen social problem – and yet expertise and resource is lacking in precisely this area: the reliable production of meaningful social outcomes.
We focus on exactly this with our Driving Impact model. We look for organisations that have ‘performance anxiety’ – that care deeply, in other words, about the extent to which their work is having a real impact on the problems they exist to solve. We help these organisations we support to develop, operationalise, and test performance management systems which allow them to modify delivery in real time, ensuring that far more beneficiaries get to the desired outcome.
Research in this area is still nascent and so we are delighted to co-publish Emma’s work as a valuable contribution to a developing body of expertise. We hope it will encourage performance analysts to recognise, discuss, and disseminate the valuable results of their work. We also hope it will inspire CEOs and boards to take seriously, and invest in, performance management. As this report shows, the work of the analyst is special, and specialised. But what the work represents is a commitment to accountability and impact which should be central to any social organisation, from the boardroom to the frontline.