Translating Public Policy: Enhancing the Applicability of Social Impact Techniques for Grassroots Community Groups

Melissa Edwards
Nina Burridge
Hilary Yerbury


This paper reports on an exploratory action research study designed to understand how grassroots community organisations engage in the measurement and reporting of social impact and how they demonstrate their social impact to local government funders. Our findings suggest that the relationships between small non-profit organisations, the communities they serve or represent and their funders are increasingly driven from the top down formalised practices. Volunteer-run grassroots organisations can be marginalized in this process. Members may lack awareness of funders’ strategic approaches or the formalized auditing and control requirements of funders mean grassroots organisations lose capacity to define their programs and projects. We conclude that, to help counter this trend, tools and techniques which open up possibilities for dialogue between those holding power and those seeking support are essential.

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