Weighing things up

Right now, 92 Minutes is working on three impact and evaluation reports. These are reports on projects that have been delivered by charities. The reports might be for the funder, so they can see the impact of their support, or for future funders, to evidence the impact of the work, or just for the charity, so they can learn, see what worked, see what needs to change.

I can honestly say it’s a wonderful thing to do.

Every time a charity gets awarded a grant to do some work, they set out at the start what they said they would do, and what they thought this would achieve. On one hand, evaluation is about simple progress against those targets. There’s some crunching of numbers - how much did the project end up costing per head//per intervention.

What is pretty tough to capture in hard numbers is the impact charity support has on individuals.

I sat for a day in a charity space, and spoke to people who had been supported by it. Two told me that would not be alive without the support of the charity. (A life is priceless, but the cost to society is estimated at £1.7m per suicide)

In surveys completed by other people, things like ‘I finished my education’ or ‘I got housed’ (and so was no longer homeless - which can cost society £20,128 per rough sleeper per year) were reported.

There *are* metrics around how much this stuff costs and doesn’t cost society, as the links above show - but for each, soft, breathing, feeling human, this is more than money. This is life. This is the difference between a life worth living and a life someone can’t bear to be in.

These charities, who are not suicide prevention charities or homelessness charities, or crisis services, save lives by helping people make them bearable. It’s a genuine privilege to help them show this.

There are, of course, questions about charities effectiveness and scandals. But we must not let this mask the huge importance of charities, particularly those on the ground, on the frontline, working directly with people in need. In the words of one person, they are ‘legends’.

When all is dark outside, writing reports like these can be a ray of sunshine. It can be a day of sunshine.