Case Study – Relationship Charity

Charities can no longer say to funders and supporters ‘we are doing a good job’. Now they have to prove they are.

This case study shows how relationship charity, The Spark, undertook the Questant Process and how they will use the outcomes. We are grateful to The Spark and its Chief Executive, Stella Gibson, for permission to publish this case study.

The Spark is a national Scottish charity, which provides relationship counselling services to families, couples, individuals and young people across Scotland.

It promotes positive relationships through early intervention programmes for young people; a marriage preparation scheme; a stepfamily helpline and relationship counselling services.

These services help The Spark’s clients to have a better understanding of relationships, which leads to better management of their expectations of, and within, relationships so resulting in the development of positive attitudes to existing and future relationships.

Failed relationships and poor interpersonal skills impact heavily on the Scottish economy in many ways – for example:

  • A young man, who is unable to manage his anger, may lash out causing injury which in turn leads to hospital, court, prison and social services costs.
  • An acrimonious divorce impacts on, at a minimum, the following local authority services: housing, social services and education.
  • A couple who fight in the home may allow that anger to spill over into a public environment causing an incident involving the police and social services.
  • A couple who fight in the home may have profound and lasting impacts on any children in the household; affecting those children’s self-esteem and self-confidence which, in turn, directly affects their educational & social development.
  • A young woman may not have the self-confidence to avoid unwanted pregnancy and its cost to society.

Reducing the impact of poor relationship behaviour can, therefore, clearly benefit the wider Scottish economy.

The Spark’s work reduces the social and economic impact of poor relationships through:

  • Supporting relationships of all kinds including those pre- and during marriage, thereby reducing potential conflict and the number of failed relationships which would otherwise require the intervention of social services, the NHS, housing, the local council, the legal system and other statutory bodies.
  • Helping vulnerable young people, couples and others understand their relationships with others and giving them the skills to deal with a wide range of issues such as abuse, anger management, self-esteem, self-confidence and inclusion in the wider society, which in turn may reduce violence and family break ups.
  • Encouraging people to develop and grow, to become more independent and to value themselves more highly leading them to become more integrated members of society and so more employable.

Reducing or removing the impacts of bad relationships reduces the demand on statutory services such as housing support, social services and the justice system, so giving a positive benefit to society.

The Spark wanted to see just how positive this benefit was, and so asked us to run the Questant Process on their organisation. The charity also wished to see whether they made a positive return on their funding investment as, with funding tightening up, an independent verification of their impact would be crucial.

The Spark has a cocktail of funders including local authorities, charitable trusts and the Lottery.

The Questant Process was applied to the organisation’s data covering a three year period. Staff time involvement was an initial meeting, some provision of data by email – all of which was held by the organisation as standard data – and a follow up meeting once the initial report had been produced.

Applying the Questant Process showed The Spark’s work produced a positive return on funders’ investment, which now allows them to verify their impact when seeking further funding.

Stella Gibson commented “We’ve had evaluations and similar exercises done before which have been time intensive and have taken us away from core service provision. Big attractions for us were how little management time was involved in carrying out the Questant Process, the Process’s robustness and how affordable it was.”

“We were also impressed by how swiftly the Questant team understood our operation and its complexities and how rapidly we got the Report back. The fact that, as an outcome of the Questant Process, we showed a very substantial positive gain for funders was the apex of what has been a very useful exercise.”

The Spark is now using the Report provided as part of the Questant Process when making further applications for funding.

More information on The Spark can be found on their website