Matt Stevenson-Dodd, chief executive of Street League, discusses his charity’s decision to run the #CallForClarity campaign – which encourages greater transparency from those in the sector
I think it is really important that charities are transparent. If you look at what has happened recently, with things like Kids Company, trust in charity seems to be very low. In an Ipsos Mori poll last year, only 46% of people questioned said they trusted charity chief executives.
Last year, we decided to do our annual report differently, and off the back of that decided to launch the #CallForClarity campaign. We had 147 organisations publicly support us on that. For this year’s annual report we decided to create an online impact dashboard, taking our aims for transparency further forward.
It is all based on how do we think we should measure success in charity? The easiest way would be to follow examples of some of the bigger charities who talk about financial success. But we think success is all about meeting your objectives. We will put our data on the website and let people make up their minds about whether we are achieving success.
Since the recession we have been feeling the squeeze. A lot of charities responded to that by telling heart rending stories about one or two people they work with. But we have decided to make it clear to people that we recognise there is little money about, and that it shouldn’t be about making vague statements about who you have reached. It should be transparent, all about your impact, and providing clear data.
Charities do an incredible job but we have got to be better about telling people what we do. If you look at our online dashboard, it is great. It was relatively inexpensive to create, as we were able to do it as part of our Office package.
The part that was more difficult was collecting all the data and making sure it was correct. We working in 14 cities, including six areas in Scotland, and it was a big enough operation to collect the information.
Using the impact dashboard, users will be able to access anonymised data about the young people which Street League is supporting and, for example, find out about the barriers they have overcome and which employment sectors they have moved into.
We are really pleased with the reception we have received. We took a bit of a risk in doing this. You can imagine the board meeting where half of the room thought it was a great idea and the other half disagreed. But I’m really glad that we have as the response has been brilliant. Our supporters have been saying how good it is that we can talk about the charity in an honest way.