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Primary purpose
Potential benefits
Who can use the tool?
What resources are needed?
Development, ownership and support
Third sector examples
Further sources of information

LM3 – Local Multiplier 3

Primary purpose

LM3 was developed by nef (the new economics foundation) as a simple and understandable way of measuring local economic impact. It is designed to help people to think about local money flows and how their organisation can practically improve its local economic impact, as well as influence the public sector to consider the impact of its procurement decisions. It was designed to be quick and relatively easy, and to highlight where an organisation can improve its impact.



The measuring process starts with 1) a source of income (say total income into a social enterprise) and follows how it is 2) spent and then 3) re-spent within a defined geographic area (that is called the ‘local economy’).

These three steps are the ‘3’ in LM3. The ‘multiplier’ is an economics concept that puts a label on a concept we understand intuitively: money that enters an economy has a multiplied impact on that economy based on the way people spend and respend money. More re-spending in the local economy means a higher multiplier effect because more income is generated.

There are five general stages to an LM3 analysis:

1. Determine what your ‘local’ area is (troubleshooting advice on this is in The Money Trail).
2. Identify what your starting point, or your income source is (Round 1).
3. If Round 1 is the organisation’s income, then for Round 2 you need to break down how you spend your income within the local area.
4. For Round 3, you need to survey the businesses and people you spend your money on to find out how they spend their incomes.
5. Collate all responses, do some quick maths, and then you have your LM3 score.

Some organisations, such as Rolls on Wheels and Gorbals Initiative, write up a report of the process and results. Others, such as Northumberland County Council, incorporate the results into future strategic planning documents. The process can be revisited on a periodic (say annual) basis and progress compared.

By 2008, all 25 North East Local Authorities had completed an LM3 exercise as they recognised that public sector procurement spend could have significant economic impact within local communities. Likewise, using LM3 The Princes Trust (North East ) was able to demonstrate that £1.9 million disbursed in 2006/2007 generated £4.1 million per annum within the North East regional economy via the impact of grant funding, development awards, supplier spend and expenditure on staff salaries.


Potential benefits

It is quick and easy relative to other forms of economic evaluation and uses numbers to show the organisation’s impact. It also highlights for the organisation where it can improve its impact.

LM3 shows external bodies (funders, public bodies) the value of funding or contracting with the organisation in terms of local economic regeneration. For example, as highlighted in The money trail, Eden Community Outdoors was able to use the LM3 to demonstrate its impact on the local economy, which helped the organisation to secure funding for a new post to take work on local economic impact forward.

Potential limitations

LM3 only captures economic impact, and does not focus on social or environmental impacts.
Within economic impact, the multiplier only captures the impact of cash, and shows income generated but does not directly show savings (often a concern to external organisations). It does not directly measure the organisation’s impact on poverty.
LM3 is only a viable tool for showing impact on deprived areas. Increasing the multiplier effect in wealthy areas can lead to ‘overheating’ and further inequalities with deprived areas.
LM3 can only help an organisation to measure the effect on its defined ‘local’ area, and not on the other areas in which it operates or brings income.


Who can use LM3?

All third sector organisations, regardless of sector or size can use LM3. It is most effective for organisations seeking to understand or demonstrate its effect on local economic regeneration.


What resources are needed?


LM3 requires a leader, generally from within the organisation, though many have been carried out by external organisations or people. The organisation will need to buy into improving the results of subsequent LM3 measures at a high level for this improvement to occur. It is also important for the organisation to have a good rapport with suppliers and staff, who will be surveyed as part of the process.

Proficiencies or skills

LM3 requires one person to lead who is comfortable with numbers. The LM3 process requires only basic maths skills, and the person must feel comfortable discussing figures relevant to things like turnover, overhead, salaries, etc. Generally, the process requires accessing financial accounts, so the person involved must know how to use Sage (or whatever financial accounting software the organisation uses) or be able to get someone to do the work for him/her.

Staff time

The amount of time spent by each organisation has varied widely. Some organisations can complete the process in a week, while other organisations have let the process stretch out over time. Some organisations were able to build some real momentum in the community around the work, so the timeframe in which it is completed matters. In terms of time, the first two rounds can be quite quick. The third round, usually surveying suppliers and staff, can take longer depending on the size of the organisation. Some of the best LM3s have entailed visiting suppliers in person and working through the survey.

Courses, support, and information

The money trail is intended to be a how-to and troubleshooting guide. The Plugging the Leaks website contains additional documents, such as survey templates and PowerPoint presentations. There is no training or consultancy needed, and you can repeat LM3 whenever you want to. nef may be able to provide limited telephone and email support depending on funding.

There is also an online version of the LM3 tool. It provides the all the materials necessary and detailed guidance for carrying out an LM3 study. Users can choose from three customised versions of the tool for the private, public or non-profit sectors.


Development, ownership and support

nef developed the tool with significant support from the Countryside Agency from 2000–2004, and is in the public domain. nef holds the copyright to the how-to manual, The Money Trail, but it is downloadable from the nef website for free. A spiral-bound hard copy can be ordered on the website for a fee.


Third sector examples

The Alnwick Garden (Northumberland)
The Princes Trust (North East)
Bulky Bob’s (part of FRC Group)
Hill Holt Wood
Sheffield Rebuild
Rolls on Wheels (a business of Forth Sector)
Heeley City Farm

Examples from other sectors

Other organisations that have completed LM3s can be found in The Money Trail.

Additional uses and users of the tool include:

Analysing their procurement spending: Northumberland County Council and Devon County Council.
Tracking overall spending: Cornwall Food Programme (hospitals); Gorbals Initiative; and Social Enterprise Network in Merseyside.
Tracking food spending: London Hospitals Food Project.
Tracking micro-lending programme: WEETU (Full Circle programme).
Completed by outside researchers: West Somerset Railway (completed by Manchester Metropolitan University) has used it to track its new investment, and Stoke-on-Trent Council (completed by Staffordshire University) has used it to track its pay to care workers.


Further sources of information

The following publications can be downloaded for free at:

The Money Trail: Measuring your impact on the local economy using LM3
Public spending for public benefit