Why does impact matter?

The importance of defining, measuring and communicating the impact of our work through an Impact Framework is an essential ingredient for delivering better outcomes for customers and communities.

We were thrilled to be joined by Tracy Collier, Founder and Director Action with Impact, Ciara Sterling, CEO Thriving Communities Partnership and Sabiene Heindl, our CEO, for a panel discussion hosted by Bec Jolly, our Director of Collaboration exploring the important impact in our collaborative work.

What is impact?

As part of this panel discussion, Tracy Collier shared what impact is and how impact measurement can form the basis for the work we do, identifying whether what we are doing is having the impact we’re hoping for. 

“It’s really about understanding the effects and changes that are occurring because of our work and who is being impacted by it … by measuring our impact, we can start to understand how [or if] our work is actually having the impact we hope it will.”

“Everything we do as humans and organisations, all of our decisions and our actions, have an impact on other people and the planet. Impact can be positive or negative … it exists whether we want to put it in an Impact Framework or not … however, you can’t change what you can’t see.”

Measuring impact allows us to:

  • Understand the value that we have on our customers and communities
  • Learn and  try new things
  • Test our assumptions for the work we do. 

Why did we develop the Energy Charter Impact Framework?

We were excited to officially launch the Energy Charter Impact Framework during this online session! 

Sabiene shared the reasons behind why we wanted to measure our collective impact.

“We’re busy running, all day, every day. Sometimes we don’t have time to look up and say ‘why are we doing this stuff?’ We all come into our work at the Energy Charter with making customer and community lives better, but do we actually know if that’s what it’s leading to? … The question is: what is the actual impact on the humans on the ground?” 

Sabiene encouraged the need for us all to have the ‘hold up the mirror’ conversation, to take time to understand why are you doing what you’re doing and seeing if you’re having the impact you think you’re working towards.

Tracy reflected “At the Energy Charter, it’s about better customer and community outcomes, so the Impact Framework helps to define what those outcomes are and how do we know we’re achieving those.”

We knew that we wanted our Impact Framework to be an evidence-based process, created to understand, measure and communicate the impact of our collective work. 

Tracy went on to share that “while working with the Energy Charter, we learnt that there really is benefit around the #BetterTogether initiatives and how it provides a space and a process for people to go from ‘hard-to-do’ challenges to ‘we can do this together’.”

Energy Charter Impact Framework overview

The Energy Charter Impact Framework has been designed to help us define, measure and communicate the impact of the collective work of the Energy Charter for customers and communities throughout our #BetterTogether initiatives.

To learn more, watch the short video below of Tracy explaining the high-level steps of our Impact Framework or jump over to our Impact Framework page for more details on each step. 

Benefits of focusing on impact for the energy sector

Within the Energy Charter, Sabiene explained that we will be using our Impact Framework across our #BetterTogether Initiatives and Communities of Practice, “but really the opportunity is the nudge the energy sector more broadly.”

To help with application of impact thinking across the sector, “we have set up an Impact Working Group which brings representatives from each of the Signatories together to talk about what this could look like for their business”.

As we work across the entire energy sector, being able to see things from different perspectives with the impact lens is critical in understanding the whole impact of our collective efforts. 

Sabiene explained that, “with many of our #BetterTogether initiatives, improvements to the impact of customers and communities will only work if, as a supply chain, we take a systems thinking approach. Our Impact Framework gives us the ability to do just that.”

Measuring impact at Thriving Communities Partnership

During the panel discussion, Ciara Sterling, CEO Thriving Communities Partnership (TCP) shared on the importance of measuring impact to meet their mission of every human within Australia having fair and equitable access to essential services and being able to thrive and live free from discrimination.

Ciara stated that throughout the process of developing an Impact Framework, TCP wanted to understand and measure their impact to enable them to dive into both the intended and unintended consequences of their work. 

“Similar to the Energy Charter, we also have that unique position that often we are acting as an intermediary for a number of our projects, working to influence change in the systems.”

“One of our largest evaluations [through our Impact Framework] has been the One Stop One Story Hub, a cross-sector digital platform that really enables frontline workers to incorporate community and government organisations to connect and refer their customers/clients [humans] to a range of supports through a single access point. 

We developed the Impact Framework during the co-design phase of the One Stop One Story Hub. We wanted the partners to be really involved in identifying the things that we want to measure.”

A key takeaway Ciara explored from their Impact Framework development was the need to measure the health and effectiveness of the partnerships throughout collaborative cross-sector work, especially looking at the ‘trust’ element being built between community and other organisations. This is evident in their evaluation of this project, including:

  • 98% of TCP’s partners have ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that their partners would act in the best interest of people experiencing vulnerability
  • 92% of TCP’s partners indicated that they were ‘constantly’ or ‘always’ learning from somebody else in the group
Being able to capture the outcomes and impact pathways shows that TCP are creating positive impact for the humans involved including those receiving the assistance, their partners and the organisations they’re working 

A platform for learning

To round up the session, Tracy shared her experience of embedding impact thinking in organisations, including that an impact-first approach is usually seen has a ‘too-hard to do’ or a ‘nice-to-have’. However, having an Impact Framework provides people with the framework needed to start thinking of impact earlier on in the conversation. It allows for new ways to learn from each other and helps guide efforts in a direction that is led by its intended impact.

It’s also critical to have a quantitative and qualitative approach. Tracy explained that “those two things together can really give us the story and help unpack or uncover insights … people go into an Impact Framework and think it’s all about numbers, where there’s actually so much richness in the stories too.”

Watch the ‘Why does impact matter?’ online discussion

If you missed the ‘Why does impact matter’ panel discussion, or would like to revisit the conversation, you can watch the recording below.

About the guest speakers

Tracy Collier, Founder and Director at Action with Impact

Tracy is a leader and mentor in Social Innovation and Impact, driven by the vision of an inclusive, just, and sustainable world. She works with organisations to improve their social impact by considering the lived experience of the people they affect and the system they operate in. 

Tracy’s approach combines design, research, evaluation, and partnership methods to deliver innovative and impactful solutions to complex problems. Tracy has a demonstrated history of developing strategic programs and partnerships between private, government, and social sectors to achieve social, economic, and environmental impact.

Ciara Sterling, CEO at Thriving Communities Partnership

Ciara Sterling is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Thriving Communities Partnership (TCP). TCP is a charity that convenes over 350 organisations across sectors and with people with lived experience to forge deeper understanding of vulnerability and drive ecosystem change through social design innovation.

Ciara Sterling has over 20 years’ experience collaborating across corporate, government, regulators, Ombudsman, community sectors and lived experience to address the root causes of vulnerability domestic abuse and inequality. Ciara is also a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC), is a member of the White Ribbon Advisory, the AER Customer Consultative Committee, and a founding member of the Economic Abuse Reference Group (EARG).

Community of Practice – Engagement that informs strategy and customer pricing

Community of Practice – Engagement that informs strategy and customer pricing

A transformational journey toward best practice customer and community engagement

Discover the expert-led discussions as part of the ‘Know your Customers + Communities’ Community of Practice’ that covers a range of engagement topics specific to the energy and water sectors. These sessions focus on insight sharing and building capability to better engage with customers and communities and ensure the ‘customer voice’ can be heard across all levels within businesses.

In December, we heard from Kellie King, General Manager Community & Corporate Services at Wannon Water about their transformational journey, starting in 2017, toward better practice customer and community engagement, in pursuit of becoming a truly customer centric organisation. 

In 2023, Wannon Water won the IAP2 Core Values Organisation of the year for Australasia, and also took out the IAP2 Core Values Organisation of the year Internationally!

Wannon Water began by developing their own definition of community engagement and a new Community Engagement Framework and ‘toolkit’. Built on a commitment to best practice from their most senior levels, the framework is based on the IAP2 Core Values.

They delivered framework training across their organisation and designed a new “Wannon Water Engagement Cycle” (WWEC), a comprehensive annual program that informs their yearly strategic plan and provides iterative input to setting our five-yearly customer pricing.

Watch Kellie discuss Wannon Water's engagement journey

Check out Kellie’s PowerPoint from the session to refer back to resources and access in future.

Introducing Kellie King, General Manager Community and Corporate Services at Wannon Water

“My purpose is to facilitate great outcomes for people and their communities. I am a values driven, people-centred, leader and executive. My focus is on partnership, engagement, relationships, wellbeing, integrity, and ethics.

My background includes working within local and state governments, not-for-profit organisations, small business, government business enterprise and running my own consultancy business.

Past roles have spanned the education, health, community, and water sectors in metropolitan and regional areas in Victoria, Australia. I’m grateful to be a graduate of Leadership Victoria’s Williamson Community Leadership Program, JMW’s Leader of the Future Program, the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) course and hold accreditation as a Partnership Broker with the Partnership Brokers Association (PBA).”

About the Know your Customers + Communities events

This event is part of the Energy Charter’s ‘Know your Customers + Communities’ Community of Practice. This Community of Practice is a collaboration between the Energy Charter and Water Services Association of Australia under our Collaboration Memo of Understanding (MoU)