This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for account authentication. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.

The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

New book aims to help organisations understand the difference their service makes

This news post is about 1 year old

The founders of Matter Of Focus specialise in helping public sector organisations. 

A new book has been published that pioneers a new way of measuring the effectiveness of social policy, giving vital insights.

How Do You know If You Are Making a Difference: A Practical Handbook for Public Service Organisations, is out now, written by award-winning entrepreneurs. 

The study paints a realistic picture of how organisations contribute to change and establishing a practical way of understanding if you are making a difference. 

They focus on knowing whether your organisation, project or service is really making a difference is essential for public service and third sector organisations who support people and communities. 

Drs Sarah Morton and Ailsa Cook specialise in working with organisations that make a positive impact in the world and help them to prove their worth. Most recently, the pair scooped up the Public Innovator Award at The ScotlandIS Digital Tech Awards.

As directors of Matter of Focus, the team specialise in supporting public and third sector organisations by offering an alternative impact assessment approach.  

Dr Morton said: “Often organisations feel that they need to ‘feed the machine’ with numbers, categories and data that seem meaningless.  We help organisations to establish a practical but robust way of understanding if they are making a difference.  

“We work with teams who strongly believe in the work they do and know implicitly that they do make a difference. But when it comes to reporting they struggle to bring together and evidence their contribution to change.  

“Quantative approaches alone can’t tell the story of what difference work makes, nor how it makes a difference.  We use an alternative approach to numbers-based software and champion learning and reflection.”

Sarah, Ailsa and their colleagues worked closely with Penumbra, a pioneering mental health charity offering services and support to people across Scotland. 

Penumbra champions the power of lived experience and peer support in helping people create meaningful change in their lives but lacked an overarching evaluation framework to articulate the success of their approach.  

Working closely with the team Matter of Focus helped Penumbra’s staff demonstrate the power of what they do and why. 

They are now in a position to be involved in the conversation around the development of national policies and approaches.

Matter of Focus also worked with Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, Unpaid Carers team, a local public and third sector partnership that provides and commissions care and support to unpaid carers in Edinburgh. 

Dr Cook added: “We bring together practical approaches with sound academic thinking and are passionate about working with organisations to explore how they make a difference.  We took a leap of faith leaving the university to establish our business and develop this approach.  

“We are thrilled that it has been received with such enthusiasm by Government teams and organisations in Scotland, the UK and beyond.”