How to measure and report Public Good


I suppose the first question to ask is, how do you define Public Good in the first place?

Actually that's a very big question, but the area I want to focus on is to find out if the money invested in a service for public good has been wisely used, or not.  Specifically, 

  • What could be improved?
  • Could the money have been better spent on something else, for the same group of the population?
  • Did the payback in social good outweigh the investment made?
  • what is the right balance of different services bought, that will maximise the social or public good from the limited resources available Now let's look at alternative approaches – how else you could make business decisions in a "for public good" environment.

The challenge

Perhaps the key challenge is to come up with a method of measuring, that doesn't cost too much (cost needs to be appropriate to value), and that gives results that are repeatable, understandable, and useful.  In order to make these very short descriptions make sense, I've described them in terms of the Quality Checker report.

There are various alternatives:

  • do you want a report produced internally (which will be cheaper, but may lack credibility) or an independent report?
  • do you want the report to follow a defined framework (which carries a lot of credibility with funders, but it means that the programme will have to find someone with the right skills) or are you happy with a grab-bag (a bit of this and a bit of that) approach, which may knock your credibility?
  • do you want to tell a story (which appeals to the heart), to describe your benefits ("we got 50 people into work") or to put a financial value on your benefits ("we got 50 people into minimum wage jobs which saved the taxpayer £250,000 on benefits but also gave people a future and reduced health costs by £14,000, and it only cost £180,000 (which incidentally went in wages for our professionals who also live locally").  Ideally you probably want all three, I know.

Alternative approaches to measuring Social ImpactDo it yourself approaches (all on one page):

And there are more Robust approaches which take more resource, but at the same time deliver more complete answers: