Working with Pro Bono Economics: Rod Clark, CEO, Prisoners' Education Trust
Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) is a charity providing support services to prisoners. Its main activity is funding access to educational resources, ranging from studying for formal academic qualifications, to arts and crafts materials, to prisoners.
What was your objective in partnering with Pro Bono Economics back in 2016?
We wanted to make the economic case for investing in the support we give.
Our work together resulted in what is called a breakeven analysis. This showed us how much of an improvement we would need to make to reoffending rates among those prisoners we support, to demonstrate our services provided value for money, mainly through savings to the Government.
What was your experience of working with Pro Bono Economics team?
It was fantastic to partner with people who had real expertise and the capacity to produce a genuinely thorough piece of research.
How has having this analysis helped PET?
It has been extremely helpful to give our funders clear evidence of the value we are generating, as our main source of funding comes from Grant Making Trusts which are often very sophisticated in their approach to impact measurement.
Also if you look at Charity Commission guidance around producing an annual report and accounts, they want you to think very hard about impact. So it is something that charities are thinking about. But it’s not an easy thing to achieve alone.
What were the main things you learned from the project?
It showed us what can be done with the data that is out there, and we are already keen to do more with it. One of the by-products however was a greater appreciation of the extensive economic benefits of education – we are already looking at different ways in which we might be able to tap into this to better articulate the value we provide to society.
Did the report change anything about the way you work?
I wouldn’t say it has resulted in any direct changes to the way in which we offer our services, but it has re-affirmed their value for us and significantly bolstered our confidence when talking about them.
Would you recommend Pro Bono Economics to other charities, and if so what would you say to them?
If I was to advise other charities about getting the most out of their Pro Bono Economics collaboration, I would say give as much thought as possible beforehand to how your services generate value.
The further you’ve got in thinking about that, and the data you have to that effect, the more you are likely to get out of an engagement.
To read our report with Prisoners' Education Trust, click here.