Is your community/voluntary organisation making a difference?

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By VIEW editor Brian Pelan

We hope you enjoy our in-depth look at the issue of social impact in the latest edition of VIEW.

Most organisations in the voluntary/community sector will argue that they are making a difference. But proving it is another thing all together.

The involvement of Brendan McDonnell, director of Community Evaluation NI (CENI) made my task a bit easier.

His role as guest editor of this issue was to gently point me in the direction of areas of interest around social impact. I was also grateful to secure the support of the Building Change Trust. Both organisations, along with the Inspiring Impact Programme, are carrying out valuable work as they assist community/voluntary groups in the measurement of social impact and how to show that they are making a difference.

The largest part of this issue is centred around a discussion about the pros and cons of Outcomes Based Accountability (OBA™)

On page eight of the draft Programme for Government, OBA™ champion Mark Friedman gets a special mention. It reads: “The approach taken in this Framework draws on the techniques set out by Mark Friedman in his book ‘Trying Hard is Not Good Enough’, which describes a range of practical techniques supporting an increased outcome focus in public policy.”

Our Big Interview subject on pages four and five is with Celine McStravick, the Director of the National Children’s Bureau (NCB NI) in Northern Ireland. Ms McStravick confessed that she is positively evangelical about the strengths of the Outcomes-Based Accountability (OBA™) model in social policy. She is delighted that it is embedded in the Draft Programme for Government.

A starkly different view is taken by acadamic Toby Lowe on pages six and seven. He is not convinced by OBA™ and he questioned the decision by the Stormont Executive to include the model in its framework document.

From my limited research into OBA™ as a social impact model, I found that many organisations are not fully aware of what it is about and some of them have expressed concerns about the model. It is incumbent on wider civic society to have a frank and informative discussion about the implementation of the OBA™ model into government policy.

VIEW welcomes the chance for people or groups to contact us if they want a platform to air their views.

LATEST ISSUE OF VIEW: We look at social impact and making a difference

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