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Whilst Christmas it not yet upon us, Counting What Counts (CWC) already has its eyes firmly on the New Year, and we want to share with you exciting news about the ongoing development of the Impact & Insight Toolkit, and some important NPO sessions we will be running in February 2023.


As NPOs already know, and as Arts Council England (ACE) has recently blogged about, Counting What Counts has been procured by ACE to offer all NPOs new tools to help them evaluate their work, which are also tailor-made to help NPOs embed, progress, and report against ACE’s Investment Principles – an activity that is now an important part of NPO’s 2023-2026 funding agreements.


All ACE-funded organisations must demonstrate that they are progressing against the investment principles.  By using the new version of the Toolkit, which is available to ACE-funded organisations at no cost, NPOs will be accessing a tool that has been specifically designed to ensure NPOs users can gain key insights about their work, whilst powerfully demonstrating their commitment to the investment principles.


To make all this easy for NPOs to do, we are busy redesigning the Toolkit software and reporting outputs. As a result of these changes, each NPO will be able to access new tools to both map their organisation’s mission and ambitions into the language of the Toolkit dimensions, and then use improved Toolkit evaluation processes to track progress against their stated goals.  If the first phase of the Toolkit was about providing a tool that allowed NPOs to measure how far they were meeting their creative ambitions for a particular piece of work, this second phase creates additional options for NPOs to assess how their work contributes to their overall ambitions and objectives.


CWC is building new user flexibilities into the Toolkit, including new reporting options, offering deeper insights whilst embracing the greater role of NPO Boards, and their Chairs.  They are now expected to take on a much more active role inside NPOs in encouraging their organisations to develop their ambitions, monitor perceptions and progress, and reflect on what next for improvement and growth.  NPO Boards are also responsible for reporting on this reflection and improvement cycle to ACE.


Given these significant changes, which the Impact & Insight Toolkit has been designed to respond to, we are very keen that NPOs get early sight of what will be available for them to use in the new Impact & Insight Toolkit, and how we are tailoring the Toolkit for NPO Chairs, as well as for the Senior Management and Creative Staff of funded organisations.


We know that NPOs will be making decisions in the coming months over what tools they decide to use to support their evaluation activities in the next three years, and CWC is confident that we are building a highly relevant and useable tool as you continue to build and progress your creative ambitions.


With those aims in mind, we will be running introductory sessions on the new Toolkit for NPO Chairs and their Senior Managers in February.   At those sessions you will hear lots of detail about how NPOs can use the Toolkit to embed and report against the investment principles.  Furthermore, you will hear from an NPO peer about what they have learnt from using the Toolkit so far, and how they plan to use the new features and insights available in the next stage of the Impact & Insight Toolkit.


We encourage you to sign up for one of these sessions as soon as possible, so that you can put yourself in a well-informed position to make choices about how best to work with us in the future.


We have learned a lot from working closely with NPOs in the current Toolkit, 2019-2023, and those lessons are directly shaping the improvements we are planning to offer in the second iteration.  You can read more about some of the key lessons learned in our ‘A Handful of Lessons’ blogpost.


We look forward to seeing you in February.


Check out the details and sign up to attend an introductory session here!



Author: John Knell

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

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