Originally published at: https://decentered.co.uk/community-media-social-impact-tool/
The Outcomes Matrix by Good Finance is a practical tool assisting social impact organisations in planning and measuring outcomes. It covers nine different outcome areas and uses four lenses to consider service users’ perspectives, enabling a tailored approach to impact measurement. This tool also facilitates communication of impact to stakeholders and helps ponder future developmental areas for an organisation, thereby serving as a comprehensive apparatus for social impact evaluation.
The Outcomes Matrix provides users with a structured approach to identify, measure, and communicate the social impact of community-focussed organisations. It helps in aligning activities to desired outcomes and understanding the societal influence they have. This insight can be applied in strategic planning, enhancing stakeholder communication, and identifying areas for future development. Moreover, by quantifying social impact, organisations can attract social investors, justify funding, and foster a culture of continuous improvement, ultimately contributing to their overarching mission of creating positive social change.
Presenting evaluation information in a matrix format can benefit stakeholder organisations, partner organisations, and funders by offering a clear, organised, and quantifiable depiction of a project’s social impact. This format allows for easier comparison, understanding, and communication of outcomes and effectiveness. It can also assist in informed decision-making, ensuring alignment with shared goals, and demonstrating accountability and transparency, which are crucial for maintaining trust and continued collaboration. Moreover, a well-structured matrix can illustrate the progress and achievements of a project, thereby supporting future funding and partnership opportunities.
The nine outcome areas delineated in the Outcomes Matrix are:
- Arts, Heritage, Sports and Faith
- Citizenship and Community
- Conservation of the Natural Environment
- Employment, Education and Training
- Family, Friends and Relationships
- Housing and Local Facilities
- Income and Financial Inclusion
- Mental Health and Wellbeing
- Physical Health
The four lenses for considering service users are:
- People at high risk of harm, disadvantage, and discrimination
- Protected characteristics
- Socioeconomic groups
The Outcomes Matrix can be beneficial if adapted to suit the social gain principles and key commitments of community media projects as defined by Ofcom. By tailoring the Matrix to reflect the unique goals and indicators relevant to community media, it can help in planning, measuring, and communicating the social impact of these projects. Additionally, aligning the Matrix with Ofcom’s guidelines can ensure compliance, promote transparency, and foster a more profound understanding of the value and impact community media projects bring to their communities, thus potentially enhancing their efficacy and credibility.
The nine outcome areas can be tailored to community media as follows:
- Arts, Heritage, Sports and Faith: Showcasing local culture and traditions.
- Citizenship and Community: Fostering civic engagement and community cohesion.
- Conservation of the Natural Environment: Promoting environmental awareness.
- Employment, Education and Training: Providing educational content or vocational training.
- Family, Friends and Relationships: Encouraging social connections.
- Housing and Local Facilities: Addressing local housing issues or facilities.
- Income and Financial Inclusion: Promoting financial literacy and inclusion.
- Mental Health and Wellbeing: Offering support and information on mental health.
- Physical Health: Promoting physical health and wellness.
Each area can be explored through different media projects, aligning with the social gain principles and enhancing the value community media brings to the local audience.
A matrix like the Outcomes Matrix can support understanding and evaluation of the social impact of a community media project by providing a structured framework. It allows for the identification and measurement of specific outcomes related to the project’s goals. By systematically categorising outcomes and indicators, and collecting data accordingly, the matrix facilitates a clear evaluation of the social impact. It helps in understanding how the project is contributing to the community, which in turn, can be communicated to stakeholders, thereby aiding in better decision-making and demonstrating the value and effectiveness of the community media project.
Undertaking a social impact review reflects the passion and care individuals harbour for their communities. It showcases a commitment to understanding and enhancing the positive influence of projects aimed at community betterment. By evaluating the social impact, stakeholders can fine-tune their approaches, ensuring that the fervour and dedication translated into community projects are effectively channelled towards creating substantial and meaningful change. The review, thus, acts as a bridge between heartfelt community engagement and the pragmatic realization of social benefits.