Impact report

As we approach the end of our current strategic plan, we need to understand more fully what difference our funding has made in the areas we have chosen to target and to use this information in considering possible future directions. As noted in last year’s Yearbook, we have been developing a new approach to assessing the impact of PHF funding. This has enabled us to create a ‘map’ of the outcomes that have resulted from our grant-making over the last few years, across the full range of PHF’s types of funding and UK programmes.

Our strategy has stemmed from a belief that the positive impact of our funding for individuals and communities can sometimes be increased by helping organisations to develop new strategies or implement changes in practice. We therefore intend our funding to have an impact not only on people directly, but also on the organisations that support them, and on practice and policy within their sectors.

Developing an impact framework

We used grantees’ reports to the Foundation to produce a ‘big picture’ of the changes brought about through PHF funding. By sorting grantees’ reported evidence of change into categories, we developed a classification – a framework – of the outcomes achieved through PHF funding. We found 14 broad outcomes, which could be grouped into our three types of change – for individuals and communities, for organisations and for practice and policy.

These 14 broad outcomes provide an immediately accessible overview of the impact of work funded by the Foundation. A second level in the classification gives a finer grained understanding of the types of change. This has 37 sub-categories.

The map on these pages shows the percentage of Open Grants with each outcome. Most had several different outcomes so the percentages do not add up to 100.

Special Initiatives

Meeting PHF’s strategic aims?

There were six main outcomes for individuals and communities, which contribute to the aims in the following ways.

Strategic aim one: Enabling people to experience and enjoy the arts

Funding has increased both access to and participation in arts and cultural activity by a wide range of people (outcome 5). This was achieved in four ways: reaching larger audiences; creating access for people with no previous experience of an art form; enabling participation in new arts experiences; and helping people to develop a longer-term interest in the arts. Grantees ranged from large and internationally renowned cultural venues, to local organisations rooted in communities.

Artists taking up new opportunities to develop their work (outcome 4) led also to opportunities for public engagement in the arts. Artists worked on projects in their work with communities, with vulnerable young people in schools, the community and in criminal justice settings. Continuing professional development for artists working in participatory settings (outcome 3) supported people’s participation in a range of arts and cultural activity.

Strategic aim two: Developing people’s education and learning

Funding has had an impact on the education of both children and young people (outcome 1) and of adults (outcome 3). Children and young people progressed in educational attainment, improved their school attendance and engagement in learning and improved speaking and listening skills.

Skill development for adults, both paid staff and volunteers, was a common feature of funded projects’ strategies to improve their own services and to spread new practice more widely. Continuing professional development for teachers and others in educational settings has enhanced their practice, benefiting students’ learning.

Strategic aim three: Integrating marginalised young people who are at times of transition

The outcomes for marginalised young people included the development of a wide range of skills and attributes to enhance their future prospects and wellbeing, including self-confidence and team working skills and moves into new jobs, training or volunteering.

Marginalised young people were supported to make their needs and experiences known to service providers whose decisions affect their lives (outcome 2). The young people involved in the projects came from varied backgrounds and experiences, including young people who were: ‘NEET’; ex-offenders; from asylum seeker, refugee and migrant backgrounds; young male sex workers; experiencing mental health problems; living with HIV/AIDS; and people who had learning disabilities.

Within communities, some marginalised young people developed new or stronger relationships with others of the same age group and across generations (outcome 6).

Strategic aim five 1: Developing the capacity of organisations and people who facilitate our strategic aims

All the types of change that have contributed to the first three strategic aims have been facilitated by and made more sustainable by investment in individuals and organisations.

As we have seen, many people in different settings have taken part in training and CPD (outcome 3) and artists have had new opportunities to develop their work (outcome 4).

Organisations have changed too, by responding more effectively to groups with whom they previously had little contact or whose needs were poorly served (outcome 7). New business models were often ambitious and innovative, producing service improvements for users and, for some organisations, leading to new or more secure sources of income (outcome 8). New and stronger partnerships brought together the different areas of expertise, infrastructure and relationships that were needed to meet various types of shared objectives. Some partnerships involved close cooperation between small numbers of organisations; others were larger, cooperative networks (outcome 9).

Impact on policy and practice

Our assessment found fewer examples of impact on wider policy and practice than of outcomes for individuals and communities or organisations. Where there was evidence for impact on practice, much was evidence of dissemination of, and interest in, learning from the work that took place. It is harder to show evidence of actual take-up, although in some areas, such as Musical Futures, we know that the ideas are being applied on a large scale.

A small number (3 per cent) of grantees were active in influencing local policy, using evidence from PHF-funded work about the changes needed to improve outcomes for individuals and communities. At a national policy level, 10 per cent of grantees were active – mostly large voluntary organisations with a nationwide remit and greater capacity to pursue this kind of work. Again, the evidence mainly shows policy advocacy taking place, and it is difficult to attribute decisions to amend, create or abolish specific policies to these activities.

To our surprise, there is evidence of influence on practice and policy internationally. Five per cent of grantees, all from the Arts programme, attracted the interest of peers overseas, who visited to learn more about new approaches funded by the Foundation, or invited grantees’ staff to speak at overseas meetings. From our Special Initiatives, Musical Futures has been introduced in Australia with support from an American charitable trust.

Reflections and next steps

One of the most useful effects of this sort of analysis is that it prompts thinking and suggests questions for discussion, at both strategic and operational levels. The findings also provide a baseline against which we can examine future trends and changing patterns.

The ‘Impact map’ will inform PHF’s thinking about policy and planning for the future. The map suggests a number of questions for further consideration, including:

  • What desirable or intended outcomes are missing or are less numerous than we would like? If there are such gaps in the map of actual outcomes, how does our funding strategy need to change?
  • Are some of our intended or actual outcomes more important than others? Which might be future priorities and how do we fund to achieve them?
  • Are the outcomes for organisations the ones we want to see? Are there other outcomes that we should seek to encourage? Do different types of organisations have different needs?
  • How important is it for the Foundation to try to bring about change by influencing wider practice and policy? What can we learn from where this has happened successfully? What could the Foundation do to be more effective in this area and enable grantees to have more influence?

More on the development of the impact framework and its findings can be found in the report ‘Assessing Impact’, which is published on our website.


  • 1 Strategic aims four and six were not intended to be achieved through grant-making