Case Study: How does Stroke Foundation NZ report on impact?

From 2021, all of New Zealand's registered charities will be required by law to report on their impact. As charities perform a huge range of different activities, it follows that no single framework or methodology will necessarily work for all Not-for-Profits. That's why it's useful for NFPs that have no experience in impact reporting to learn from the examples of others that do have experience. One such charity that has been reporting on impact for some time now is Stroke Foundation NZ.

Who is Stroke Foundation NZ?

Stroke Foundation NZ employs 56 staff nationwide and has an operating income of $5 million. Five years ago Stroke Foundation NZ decided to become an evidence-based organisation, meaning it had to start reporting on its impact.

It chose three overarching impacts to report on:

  1. Improving quality of life after stroke.
  2. Reducing incidence of stroke.
  3. Increasing the number of stroke-affected people who return to work.
A key impact for Stroke Foundation NZ is ensuring stroke-affected people still have a good quality of life after stroke.Stroke Foundation NZ's CSAs work with stroke-affected people to ensure they can achieve a good quality of life after stroke.

1) Improving quality of life after stroke

To help people after stroke improve their quality of life, the charity employs 26 Community Stroke Advisers (CSAs). They engage with the stroke-affected community, picking them up when they first go to hospital and working with them on their recovery. The CSA will talk through the stroke-affected's frustrations and wishes, and help to establish some goals with them. They will then work with that person to ensure they achieve these goals.

In order to measure the success of this, the Stroke Foundation set up a national client database. In this database, the CSA records the stroke-affected's progress towards that goal (as a percentage) on each visit and at the point where they decide to disengage with the charity.

Of course, to some extent this is a subjective measure, and the CSA works out with the stroke-affected person how far they have progressed. However it's still a way of providing detailed data on how far they are helping stroke-affected people return to normal life after stroke.

2) Reduce incidence of stroke

The charity's second outcome is to reduce the incidence of stroke in NZ. Because high blood pressure is the single greatest modifiable risk factor, Stroke Foundation NZ runs a national blood pressure awareness campaign. This involves providing people with free blood pressure checks and giving them information on what they can do to improve it. The charity gets a consent from some of these people to follow up with them and find out what they've done (if anything) to reduce their blood pressure following their test.

In the last four years, between 51 and 54 per cent of participants have told Stroke Foundation that they have done something to reduce their blood pressure, for example reducing salt consumption or giving up smoking. This is as a direct result of that free blood pressure check. This is a clear outcome measure (number of people who have changed their behaviour) from an activity (providing free blood pressure checks) to help towards an impact (improving blood pressure management to reduce number of strokes).

Stroke Foundation NZ has been able to get a number of stroke-affected people back to work.A key impact Stroke Foundation NZ wants to have is to improve the number of people returning to work after stroke.

3) Increase number of stroke-affected people who return to work

A recent Treasury study found that if you have a stroke you are still likely to be unemployed four years after the initial incident. So Stroke Foundation NZ's CSAs also work closely on improving stroke-affected people's ability to return to work. 

The output here was obvious - how many people could the Foundation get back to work within a nine month time frame (the maximum amount of time the charity can spend with someone as per funding from the Ministry of Social Development). The charity found that within a nine month time frame it saw 45 - 50 per cent of stroke-affected people who had been in employment prior to their stroke return to work.

Generally, Stroke Foundation NZ has seen the shift towards an impact-centred culture as a very positive step. "The staff have understood it and our managers have embraced it. It's amazing to see that clear positive impact of our work - we're not just being praised for the increase in clients but the actual improvements in quality of life that we are helping achieve. This has significantly boosted satisfaction levels amongst our employees," explains Mark.

How can BDO New Zealand help your Not-for-Profit report on impact?

BDO has extensive experience in the Not-for-Profit sector and can assist you with creating an impact model and report that is relevant and tailored to your organisation. Contact the team today to discuss how we can help you with your impact reporting.