New world-first online research tool to provide $300m benefit to Australian social impact sector

Centre for Social Impact

Amplify Social Impact Online

(Amplify Online) is a ground-breaking initiative developed over three years by a team of researchers: the first consistent, evidence-backed, free-to-use impact measurement tool for the Australian for-purpose sector. It will be launched today by the Centre for Social Impact.

Australian charities and not-for-profits that take up Amplify Online can expect to save up to $90,000 per reporting project, with $300 million per annum conservatively expected to be saved across the sector.

Associate Professor Graham Brown, Director of the Centre for Social Impact at UNSW, stressed the importance of the world-first solution, as a means to fill a gap in the social impact sector.

“For more than half a century, for-purpose organisations have been calling for a reliable and scalable way to measure their social impact within the community,” A/Prof. Brown said. “It’s one of the biggest challenges for any charity, and now technology has finally caught up to provide a solution.

“Following extensive collaboration with government and Australian charities of all sizes and purposes, CSI was equipped to take on the ‘holy grail’ of the social economy – identifying more than 500 relevant outcome indicators and building a reporting framework that will free up the limited resources of our nation’s for-purpose organisations.

“Every year, $510 billion is spent on Australian community sector programs, without reliable measures of impact or consistent benchmarking. This is the first time that these organisations will have a verified process for identifying impact, at low or no cost.”

Indicator Engine – the first part of the Amplify Online platform to be launched – includes a fully serviced online repository that manages the creation and distribution of evidence-based surveys, based on hundreds of available evidence-backed tools. Indicator Engine collates and categorises responses in a validated and reliable way to help organisations measure impact across any initiative or social issue area.

The aim is to enable for-purpose organisations to focus on delivering services, rather than using valuable internal resources on research or paying to outsource it to a third-party provider. Ultimately, this helps organisations optimise programs by determining whether they are making the intended impact.

The platform can also be used by organisations to measure a range of social outcomes – such as financial stress, standard of living, mental health, or disaster preparedness – among their clients, staff or broader stakeholders.

Amplify Online Project Manager Rose Ahearn explained how the platform is designed to improve evaluation within smaller programs and organisations.

“Amplify levels the playing field so smaller organisations can keep up as impact reporting requirements continue to grow for certain grants, partnerships and funding,” Ahearn explained.

“Often organisations making a real impact miss out on opportunities simply because they don’t have the resources or capacity to measure their influence, and this platform aims to change that.”

Tim Buskens, CEO of HOPE Housing – a not-for-profit initiative that assists essential service workers with buying a home – described how the tool will help.

“As an impact investment initiative, it’s incredibly important for us to demonstrate outcomes and we see the Amplify Online tool as core to our impact measurement program. Amplify Online also gives us valuable insight on how we can improve our offering for the benefit of the communities we serve – which for us is all about housing our essential frontline workers,” Buskens said.

The next phase of the Amplify Social Impact Online platform, Yardstick, is under construction and will offer automated statistical analysis of the data collected.

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