Impact only matters if we know it’s happening. It is key to Community Development, community-based solutions to uplift the disenfranchised. It’s one thing to implement a plan, but it’s another to understand how a plan reflects your goals. Thus, community Impact bridges intent with the outcome. It attempts to close the gap of necessity for community intervention.
Don’t be fooled, though. Impact and outcome are not to be confused with production. It matters not how much you do but how you serve. Activity is an intangible and often poor measurement of impact. Rather, Impact is a way to assess how well your organization is tackling systemic issues within a community. Even if your programs aren’t going exactly as planned, measuring Impact is a way to identify this. Additionally, it keeps you and your organizers accountable and adaptable to the needs of the community you serve.
Measuring impact matters because it provides insight into your organization’s efficacy. Solving inequality is more than what you do. It’s how you do it – efficient execution is key! Rather than temporary alleviation, measuring impact ensures that long-lasting change is attainable. Being cognizant of what is helping and what is hurting your community is pertinent.
Impact Assessment allows you to check if you are completely disrupting and dismantling the cycle of inequality. Oftentimes, the loop of community intervention entails a plan that only temporarily ceases the detrimental experiences of a neighborhood. Once this assistance is taken away, communities can be left in a situation worse than before or in a cyclic situation of stagnation. Understanding what does and what does not hold longevity via your programs can be done through impact assessments.
How we measure impact:
The Lupton Center measures impact using the SPIRE Assessment. It was created to evaluate the results of our work. Integrating 5 principles, we can assess change.
The first principle is Solutions Focused. You will see us reiterate often that solving inequality is different than treating the symptoms. Attempting to stifle the effects of inequity without addressing and abolishing the systems that cause it is a disservice.
With a solution-based focus, you identify community priorities and high-impact areas.
Community Participation is a way to gauge how the members of your community interact with their environment and their people. Having people engage with their community displays the impact of your program. Be receptive to feedback! Learn how to increase engagement and create a space for input. Doing this will further build trust and community.
Neighborhood Integration. Partnering with various institutions at the local level lends a multi-faceted approach. Your program should not only focus on the problem at hand but the intersections systemic inequality creates. Additionally, the Flourishing Neighborhood Index assesses the health of your community. Consisting of social, structural, and economic factors, the Index adds depth to understanding the organizer-community dynamic.
Authentic Relationships are a way to foster connectedness. This can be done by having community members take on leadership roles, or organizers residing in proximity to the community. Are you giving your community a voice? How well acquainted are you with the neighborhood you serve? These are questions that go into assessing impact.
Program Execution. Again, it’s not about simply what you’re putting into a community but how you’re doing so. The logistics of this can be intimidating but rest assured that when passion, comprehension, and commitment to a goal are put at the forefront, the rest will follow.
Get Started with Us:
Not sure where to begin? Start with us! We know that it may be tempting to dive head-first into helping a community. We understand the eagerness to see the fruition of your efforts. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! But long-lasting, impactful change requires that the first few small steps be taken.
Impact evaluations enable your organization to take on a holistic approach. Holistic Neighborhood Development and Impact go into the assessment. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your program and being willing to adapt help you be successful. To learn more about assessing impact and other programs we offer, check out our flyer here.