Society Diary: Measuring the impact of impact measurement, and getting branded stationary

21 Aug 2015 Voices

Our weekly round-up of interesting and outlandish information, collected from the corners of the charity sector.

Our weekly round-up of interesting and outlandish information, collected from the corners of the charity sector.

The impact of impact

Diary has attended many impact measurement conferences, seminars, briefings, et al, over the last few years, and has developed a favourite question to ask.

How do you measure the impact of impact measurement?

Diary likes this for a number of reasons.

First, it’s endlessly recursive. If you do measure the impact of your impact measurement, how do you know your time’s well spent doing so? You have to measure the impact of measuring the impact of your impact measurement, and so on, until you reach a quantum level, in the manner of energy when it gets down to units around Planck’s constant * and find the existence of a fundamental impact particle - an impacton, perhaps, or something similar.

Second, it turns out that no one has measured the impact of impact measurement, which is pleasingly ironic. It’s a bit like the fact that thesaurus has no synonyms, and that the words lisp and dyslexia seem almost directly invented to tax their sufferers, and that onomatopoeia doesn’t sound like itself.

But third, and most important, it’s slightly annoying, in a way that keeps Diary amused.

Anyway, it seems likely that this question’s days are numbered. Apparently the question is now being addressed at New Philanthropy Capital, the think tank set up largely to champion impact measurement as a way of life. (And incidentally, what does New Philanthropy Capital actually mean? Perhaps it’s because they’re trying to turn London into the hub for world giving – the new philanthropy capital.)

NPC is now measuring its impact, with a handy questionnaire. You can fill it out here.

How does this job work again?

So a certain charity, which shall remain nameless **, has a new website. So far, so good. It’s mobile-friendly, it’s very pretty, and it does all the things a website is supposed to do.

What’s curious is the charity’s rather defensive reaction to the fact they have a new website. They put up a press release, so Diary’s rather more serious-minded parent organisation, Civil Society News, got in touch to ask them about it.

“You’ve got a new website,” our scribe said.

“Do we?” the person at the other end of the phone said.

“Absolutely you do,” our scribe said. “We’re looking at it.”

“How do you know we've got a new website?”

“Well firstly, we’re looking at it. But secondly, you’ve put out a press release.”

“Oh really. Can you send me that press release?”

Which was a new one on us. As a journalist, it’s not unusual for a charity press office to send you their press release. Common, in fact. Quotidian. De rigeur. But sending a charity’s press release to a press officer. That’s rare.

So we sent the charity its own press release. The next day, in the absence of any new information from the charity, we thought we might write a story anyway. So we went back to the press release about the new website. Which was on the website. Only to discover that the charity had deleted it. So we rang the press officer. Who still didn’t know anything about their new website.

Which is an interesting approach to press, really. Maybe others should try it. When you launch a new website, why not make it as hard to inform people as possible? That should help.

What does PFRA stand for?

So the PFRA has changed its name. What has it changed it to, you might ask? The answer: the PFRA.

The difference is that before PFRA stood for Public Fundraising Regulatory Association. Now it stands for Public Fundraising Association.

You see what they did there. Clever, that.

They’ve also got a new logo. But what does it look like?

Just like the old logo, it appears. Except that before one of the letters was in purple. Now one of the letters is in purple.

Incidentally, apropos of absolutely nothing, this puts Diary in mind of a fun game you can play to annoy people. Ask them to tell you, without looking, what order the colours appear in the Google logo. Everyone will think they can, but they can’t. Apparently, no one can do it.

What's even weirder is that even though no one can do it, Most people will usually notice if you change the colours round. Isn't that odd?

Time for a rebrand

You know you’re in trouble when you’re getting trolled online by your own press team. That fate befell NCVO this week, though, after a spelling error so egregious the charity's own senior external relations officer waded in to inveigh against them.

Diary feels beholden to bring you the nature of the complaint.

Thanks to a commercial partnership, NCVO announced, you can now get everyone in your organisation branded stationary.

Diary is of the opinion that will never work, though. As soon as they see the iron, you’ll never get them to stay still.

* Incidentally, Diary is unable to read this phrase without thinking that it must make Mrs Planck happy.

** For absolute clarity, not the one featured elsewhere in today's bulletin.