Six tips to measure impact during lockdown

How to simply and effectively evaluate and measure the impact of your charity or social enterprise during the Coronavirus crisis.

Should your charity or social enterprise measure impact when in crisis mode?

You may be thinking that you have enough on your plate keeping your organisation afloat and that measuring impact is not a priority. 

Maybe you’re right, but I firmly believe that charities and social enterprises who undertake some simple monitoring and evaluation during the Coronavirus crisis will emerge stronger than others.

Your organisation is likely to be delivering services in a different way; perhaps you’re supporting people online for the first time? 

If you don’t measure the difference made through these new delivery models it is a missed opportunity.  Evaluation data should inform decisions about whether online support should be part of your work going forward and provide evidence of the difference you are making to funders.

Evaluation during lockdown was a topic of discussion at the recent Charity Evaluation Working Group panel discussion.  Here are my top six takeaways to help you simply and effectively measure your impact during lockdown.

1. Review your Theory of Change

Many charities and social enterprises have moved from helping people thrive, to helping them survive.  Take some time to review your Theory of Change and consider if you need to change the outcomes that you are measuring. 

If you have an agreed set of outcomes to achieve, try to negotiate revised outcomes with funders; most are being extremely supportive during these difficult times.

2. Adapt your information collection methods if necessary

Qualitative data can be captured through telephone interviews, online focus groups and video diaries. Can you get more creative? One of my clients is asking their beneficiaries (adults with learning disabilities who love karaoke!) to write a song about their experiences. 

Online surveys are great at capturing quantitative information.  Google Forms is free to use but doesn’t provide the data analysis that other tools such as Survey Monkey, Survey Gizmo and Typeform provide.

3. Capture evidence of need

Many grant applications ask for evidence that your project is needed.  When funding is scarce, it is more important than ever to capture good evidence of what’s happening for your beneficiaries and why they need your support. 

A brief needs analysis will help you to find out the problems they are experiencing, the help that they need to overcome those problems, and how your services fit into that solution.  

4. Don’t assume that people are too busy or too stressed to complete monitoring forms

Your beneficiaries may be experiencing extreme hardship right now and you may be tempted to not want to bother them with impact measurement.  However, some organisations are reporting that people feel a sense of camaraderie and have been only too happy to complete an evaluation form if it helps the organisation that is helping them. 

Explain why you need the information.  Response rates may be lower, but you may be surprised at the level and quality of evaluation data you get back.

5. Check your data security measures

If staff are working from laptops at home, make sure that there are appropriate levels of security and password protection on them so that that people can’t delete data accidentally.  Also ensure that your client database is not vulnerable to being hacked.

6. Squeeze every ounce out of your impact data.

Use the impact data captured to inform your future strategy and tell funders about the great work you are delivering during lockdown. 

It’s also important to inspire people with the difference that you’re making.  Share quotes, data, stories and images that engage people with the difference you are making to people’s lives.     

In short, keep calm and evaluate!

I know things are tough right now. 

Thank you for everything you do to make life better for others. 

If you need a little help with measuring impact during lockdown, do get in touch by email or by booking a call.  I’m very happy to provide some support and practical advice free of charge during these challenging times. 

Emma Insley


Emma has first-hand experience of the thrills and terrors of charity leadership. Dedicated to the non-profit sector for 20+ years, Emma has both depth and breadth of experience as a CEO, Consultant, Trustee and Chair, Fundraiser and Grants Assessor.


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