Development of metrics to measure the impact of Tommy's work
Because of its growth, Tommy’s commissioned RAND Europe to support them as they develop a new strategy for their charitable spending over the next four years. Researchers examined the metrics the organisation currently uses and suggested additional metrics to measure the impact of the work Tommy's does and their impact on stillbirth, preterm birth, and miscarriages.
Tommy’s was established in the early 1990s with the aim of making pregnancy safer and reducing the number of babies who die during pregnancy or at birth. They seek to achieve these aims primarily through the funding of four research centres across the UK, providing a mix of infrastructure and fellowship/salary funding, as well as offering a pregnancy information service for public use.
Their current strategy, set in 2014, coincided with a significant increase in voluntary donations. With an increased research funding budget, Tommy’s is looking to expand its operations to include the funding of large fellowships, with the aim of growing capacity in the field and supporting the uptake of research findings and other evidence-based practices into routine practice in the NHS and at home.
As Tommy’s begins to move from a small to a medium-sized charitable research funder and diversify its research funding model, they recognized the need for a new approach to engage with beneficiaries, funders and the research community to demonstrate the impact of their funded research.
Tommy’s commissioned RAND Europe to support them as they develop a new strategy for their charitable spending over the next four years. The aims of this study were to:
- Review and develop appropriate metrics to measure the impact of the charity’s work based on international best practice.
- Consult key stakeholders to ensure the metrics and measures Tommy’s provided were feasible, acceptable, and representative of the charity’s contribution.
Although the study was primarily intended to inform their approach to measuring their impact and strategy, it may also be of relevance to the funders, clinicians, academics, other charities, and any stakeholder who shares Tommy's mission.
The study was carried out using a mixed-methods approach involving a workshop with Tommy's, a focused review of the charity’s existing frameworks and strategy documentation, interviews with key stakeholders engaged with their mission, and an internal workshop.
Building on an existing framework, the study suggested additional metrics to measure the impact of the work Tommy's does. An overall logic model was identified that can be used to infer and justify appropriate indicators for measuring Tommy’s impact in stillbirth, preterm birth, and miscarriages.
A number of important insights informed the development of these metrics, including that:
- The rates of stillbirth, preterm birth, and miscarriage are interrelated.
- There is no unified data source across England, Wales, and Scotland for measuring the ultimate impact in terms of reducing the number of babies who die during pregnancy or birth.
- There are significant gaps and variations in the data measured in England, Wales, and Scotland.
- Looking at more common intermediate outcomes can be helpful in terms of understanding pregnancy and maternity-related outcomes.