Most asset development projects start with their community of stake holders - its ideas, needs and aspirations. As part of the development of a project it will be necessary to consider ways in which they can be involved in the management of the assets once they are acquired and developed.
This can be achieved through their membership of the organisation that takes ownership of the asset, as shareholders or through other mechanisms, such as involvement as volunteers, members of project working groups or via local forums where it is possible to report the activities of the project, celebrate success and gather further support for other projects and initiatives.
Support from stake holders and evidence that the project will provide benefits to them are an important element to securing support for the development of your organisation and enabling its growth. This can include the opportunity to consider what will happen if your project and the activities associated with it don't happen (the 'do nothing option') which can often have greater costs associated with them that will ultimately have to be met by the public purse (e.g. crime, vandalism, teenage pregnancy).
There are a variety of tools that are now available to help measure and continuously improve the impact of a project to maintain support from the community of stakeholders that helped to make it happen.
These tools should also be considered at the initial assessment and feasibility stage of your project's development to enable you to collect all of the relevant information for monitoring purposes. This will help you to measure the social, economic and environmental impacts of the organisation that will be managing the assets for the benefits of the community.
Some of these methods are linked to quality standards which involve an external assessment and accreditation, others are meant to be planning tools to be used by organisations as part of their internal planning to improve their impacts in the community and collect evidence to prove that they do.
Impact and performance measurement
- Social Accounting and Audit - enables organisations to measure their impacts in terms of their performance against social environmental and economic objectives with all their stakeholders. There is a particular focus on involving all stakeholders in the auditing process.
- Social Return on Investment - This helps organisations understand and quantify the social value they create. This tool expresses this as a monetary value and can be used to compare this value with the investment required to achieve it.
- Tell Your Story - Community Impact Mapping - A simple approach to basic impact mapping proposed as a five question conversation held with stakeholders:
- Vision - what did you want to achieve for your community?
- What did you use - Staff? Volunteers? Money?
- Activities - what did you do with the resources?
- What happened because of what you did?
- What difference did your actions make to your community
- Change Check - A Practical Guide to Assessing Impact - A systematic approach to looking at impact based on a review that considers survey information collected for the purpose. Addresses four questions:
- What do we want to achieve?
(the core mission of the organisation)
- What levels of impact are we having in our work now?
(social economic environmental cultural)
- Where do we want to strengthen our impact - and are there any areas of impact we are making that we do not want? (identifying potential improvements)
- What changes are necessary to strengthen these impacts? (prioritising and planning action)
- What do we want to achieve?