Upshot is an online monitoring and evaluation system that helps non profits manage their work, monitor their progress and evidence their impact.

Built by The Football Foundation in 2012, Upshot was originally designed to help funders measure their return on investment but has been so well received that it is now being used by over 750 organisations (funders and deliverers) all over the world. We work in and out of sport with the likes of NGBs, CSPs, universities, NGOs, local authorities, leisure centres and housing associations.

The system is a cloud based project management tool that helps non profits easily collect good data, track individual journeys, write case studies, send surveys, run reports and measure their overall impact. We are firm believers in leveraging the power of technology to make people’s lives easier and making data collection less burdensome. The Upshot team advises, consults and trains on all aspects of monitoring and evaluation using a digital system and being non profit making ourselves, understand the challenges faced by third sector organisations.


Upshot – Why ‘The F Word’?

At Upshot, we spend a lot of time talking about impact. We work with hundreds of organisations around the world helping them understand what success looks like and how to evidence this to their stakeholders and funders. But the one area we feel organisations ignore is the learning. Impact measurement isn’t just about looking at what has worked, it’s about examining what hasn’t and what we can learn from it. That is where failure comes in and what gave us the idea for this event. Failure is not the opposite of success. It is very much a part of it and here at Upshot, we want to make it our mission to be open about these failures so we can learn, adapt and share with the rest of the sector.

There are so many different kinds of failure that we can all learn from. There are hundreds of examples from the world of business, tech and sport itself! We know The F Word will only scratch the surface of these but we are hoping that this will be the start of a wider movement. One that will bring the sector closer together to be more open and transparent, to continue innovating and to create a cultural shift around failure. That means jettisoning our traditional beliefs and stereotypical notions of success and enabling a mindset of growth and learning. This is how we think real impact can be achieved!

The Sports Think Tank is an independent think tank dedicated to thorough and insightful thinking around sporting policy in the UK. 

Established in 2011 and based in London and Loughborough, the Sports Think Tank aims to create a vibrant sports, physical activity and recreation sector debate that challenges and creates new solutions based on practical knowledge and evidence. In pushing the boundaries of sports policy the Sports Think Tank will help the sector to meet the rapidly changing demands placed on it for the benefit of society, whether as consumers or as participants and develop a relevant sector for the future. By challenging current thinking we can create a dynamic sports policy environment for sport and physical activity to flourish across the UK. We create forums that bring together academics, sector leaders and organisations, consumers, commentators, thought leaders, sponsors and right holders, broadcasters and journalists, and policy makers to provide a unique perspective on issues in the sector, helping it to grow, innovate and mature.


The Sports Think Tank – Why ‘The F Word’? 

At the Sports Think Tank we believe the sport and physical activity sector hasn’t been great at sharing best practice. It is one of the reasons we exist – to help others learn from the evidence about what does work and to encourage people not to reinvent the solutions. However, when our director Andy Reed read the Matthew Syed book Black Box Thinking it struck a chord. Within sport, individual athletes and teams thrive on learning from failure and setbacks.  There are hundreds of books and quotes which tell these stories. Yet at the same time, within sports policy making, our 20 years of experience has shown us that we don’t have a culture of learning from failure. Too often mistakes have been swept under the carpet and if lessons have been learned, they are rarely shared.

As the sector matures, start-ups and tech companies entering the sport sector have to move and learn quickly. Yet our public policy making remains slow and cautious. There is an opportunity with the new #Sportingfutures strategy to encourage innovation and be prepared to fail when working with new sections of society. So, we felt we need to help create an environment where funders and projects felt comfortable accepting failure, learning rapidly from it and sharing the lessons learned as quickly as possible. We also want to create a toolkit to help organisations spot failure, be open and accountable about it and for the funders to be jointly open about what has not worked and celebrate the learnings!