The Value of Infrastructure Programme (VIP) has created a 'Common Impact Framework for Infrastructure' by looking at the common things they do and the difference they makes. The framework provides a shared 'story' of the role and purpose of infrastructure.
The VIP framework is not intended to tell you what work you should be doing or what impact you should be having. It is there to act as a guide to the possible work and impact of infrastructure. There are tools you can use to plan, assess and communicate the impacts in the framework.
What do infrastructure organisations do?
- To develop the work and capacity of these individuals, groups and organisations.
- To influence decision-makers.
- To connect individuals, groups and organisations.
Download the common functions map (PDF 20KB).
"The big draw is the model: the three functions of infrastructure, develop, connect, influence, which are now the basis of our business plan. A really big dawning - everything fitted so we now use this as a basis for all evaluation, and changed the whole way we gather information. Really worth coming on the course for this."
Laura Hack, SAVO
The work and activities (or 'outputs') of infrastructure organisations sit under these headings. They can be distinct work areas, but sometimes the same activity can play all three roles at once, e.g. an event in which there are support workshops, networking opportunities and at which a minister is lobbied.
Why do infrastructure organisations do what they do? (Purpose)
Although the three roles above relate to the work and activities that you do (often called your ‘outputs’), they do not address the reason you do this work (your 'purpose') or the difference it makes (your 'impact').
There are many ways to talk about the purpose of infrastructure, but we think it is helpful to have a single statement of purpose that most infrastructure organisations can sign up to. Following consultation across the sector, VIP proposes this statement of the purpose of infrastructure:
"Infrastructure organisations exist to ensure that their sector and organisations within it are making the greatest possible difference."
Where do infrastructure organisations create impact?
There are four main levels at which infrastructure organisations create impact:
- On organisations to help them have a sustainable impact on their beneficiaries or cause.
- At the sector level to build cross-sector working and resources.
- On external agencies (e.g. government agencies, businesses, trusts and foundations) to enable them to support the work of the sector as effectively as possible.
- On people to strengthen their capabilities and knowledge
A principle behind the VIP Impact Framework is that organisations and sectors are greater than the sum of their parts. An organisation is more than just a collection of volunteers, trustees and employees, and a sector is more than just the sum of the organisations within it. Organisations and sectors are both ‘systems’ with characteristics in their own right. Infrastructure organisations know this and many of them spend most of their energy at these levels, so VIP places particular emphasis on these two levels.
The impacts that infrastructure organisations have at each of these levels are summarised in the diagram below and covered by the VIP Impact Tools:
VIP Impact Framework
It is essential to stress that not every infrastructure organisation must have an impact at all four levels. Many infrastructure agencies have histories, networks, and strengths that mean they are better at creating impact at some of the levels than others.
In these circumstances, effective infrastructure agencies are those that see themselves as part of a bigger picture, complementing other infrastructure agencies with other strengths, so that between them they achieve results at all four levels.
At all four levels we have identified more detailed impacts that are created. For instance, that organisations are sustainably funded, that the sector communicates well or that commissioning practices of external agencies are fair.
Download the Impact Framework Diagram (PDF 290KB).
Advice and support
- Funding and finance
- Coping with cuts
- Addressing needs
- Managing change
- Planning for the future
- Involving people
- Public Service Delivery
- Governance and leadership
- Compact Advocacy programme
- Campaigning and influencing policy
- Collaborative working
- ICT (information and communication technology)
- Climate change
- People, HR and employment