Measuring the Impact of Your Nonprofit Program | Beth’s Blog

Measuring the Impact of Your Nonprofit Program

Measurement

A few months ago, I facilitated a mini-innovation lab on measuring impact for grantees of the Google Nonprofit program at the Impact Hub.  The workshop used design-thinking based on Luma methodology to help participants develop a communications strategy for measuring impact.      The process took participants through an assessment of the problems facing them, collective brainstorming, and prototyping.   The group included a mix of Google grantees as well as measurement professionals.

That’s where I met Kim Kastorff who is the founder of Kimpacto, a San Francisco-based advisory & consulting firm working across the U.S., Europe and Latin America. Her company helps mission-led businesses succeed, and also connect socially minded investors with “impact investing” opportunities, where they can generate both financial returns and social impact.  She founded the firm to leverage my background in finance, education, and environmental areas.  She graciously did this interview with me to share more of her knowledge.

1.   Many times, nonprofits, especially smaller ones, do not have the resources to hire outside consultants to measure the impact of their programs.  How can they get started?

With over 100 tools, approaches and platforms for measuring impact, the process can be overwhelming and time consuming. Here are three simple steps to get you started:

Plan for Success. Create a roadmap for measuring your financial + social impact.  Acumen Fund has some free courses. Another option is to create a Theory of Change or Logic Model, which should include inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes, and impact.

Set Program Goals & Metrics. Start with the question, “what does success look like?” Clarify quantifiable outcomes or metrics that can be easily measured on a routine basis.

Report Out. If a program falls in the woods, and no one’s there to hear it… You get the picture – impact is irrelevant if no one knows about it, so be sure to share updates with both stats and stories internally (i.e. board/staff meetings) and externally (i.e. newsletters, social media, blogs, annual reports, etc.)

One last note: don’t forget to task a person or team with the ongoing responsibility for collecting, analyzing, and reporting out the intel collected. If you want to go for extra credit, you can also do sector benchmarking with resources like B Analytics and CSR HUB.

2.  What goes into a good communications strategy for talking about your program’s impact?

Your communication strategy should be a combination of both financial + social impact metrics, and should consider statistics and personal stories that convey your impact. Collect this content from Day 1, and share through all your channels, as outlined above.

Effective communications strategies revolve around content tailored for your target audience, reliable data and transparency. Having a mission-aligned strategy builds trust in your organization, develops the capacity and commitment of your staff, communicates your social impact clearly to potential or existing donors, investors and board members, and promotes collaboration or opportunities for others to join in your mission.

3.  What are some of the best books or blogs or other resources for learning more about measuring impact?

There are some very helpful sites and publications that look more broadly at measuring social impact. Check out these great books and resources: Measuring and Improving Social Impacts and The Impact Investor; plus the ANDE Report, the Social Impact Investment Taskforce, the Measuring Impact Guidelines, the Good Analyst, the SROI Network, the GRI guidelines, the IRIS Guide, and for a comprehensive list of tools and methods – TRASI.

4.  If an organization does hire an evaluation specialist to help with measuring impact, what makes for a good relationship?

The right consultant should help you both maximize income/donations and generate even greater social impact. First, determine your budget and then select a qualified consultant. Check out B Lab’s directory and choose someone with a solid background and who understands your industry/sector, geographic focus, and target population. Be sure she/he also has experience connecting your social impact assessment to marketing and fundraising efforts, and understands the leading social impact tools and technologies.  Remember – a story well told can change the world.  The right consultant can help measure and communicate your data and stories, which can maximize your donations and investments. Of course, greater dollars will help expand your mission’s depth and scale. So, here’s to all of you finding your own upward spiral!

 

3 Responses

  1. Holly Ackerman says:

    These are very helpful tips about helping your non-profit organization flourish. It is very true that sometimes people cannot find the right resources or help to get started. This gives very good ways to make sure that your organization gets the chance it deserves and helps it seem a little less stressful. Keeping track of your impact is a great tip, because it not only gives encouragement, but helps keep you on track and see what more you can be doing. Setting goals is something you need for anything you are trying to accomplish. Without goals, you have nothing to work towards. Also reporting out is a great idea I didn’t think of because if you don’t let anyone know, no one can help. Also if no one knows that you’re doing good, they can’t help you make it even better.
    Communication is very important with non-profits. If you expect people to help you out, they need to know where their money is really going as well as what the impact of their donation and the organization is. If they see that they are making a difference, they will most likely continue to help because they feel useful. You must present this information in a way that people understand and that keeps them interested. Trust is also a big thing. You must gain credibility and anyone helping must be able to trust you. I really like how you gave different places to get information. I find it really helpful.
    As for picking a consultant, I agree that they should help the organization and increase the impact. I think they need to be qualified and also trustworthy. Background checks and interviews are always good for getting to know a person to make sure they are right for the job and will do it well. This person plays a huge role in the organization and should not be chosen lightly because they can make a big difference. Thank you for your article and the time it took you. I’m sure a lot of people have found it very useful.

  2. Unmesh Sheth says:

    Thank Beth. Kim and I have been working together on system development part in past. She has truly done great job in helping me through a maze. The current landscape of impact investing, program related investments (PRIs) and grant making have to deal with hundreds of measurement tools, framework and tower of Babel. Navigating from these is very difficult for most. Instead our approach is to provide a collaborative process that focuses on improving consistency within their own internal ecosystem (grantor vs grantee and investor vs investee).

    Readers who do not want to get bogged down may want to review our comprehensive social impact measurement platform (http://sopact).

    Especially our two applications:

    1) Funder Impact Measurement: http://www.sopact.com/funder-impact-measurement

    2) Program Outcome Improvement:
    http://www.sopact.com/program-outcome-improvement

    Thanks,
    Unmesh Sheth
    Unmesh Sheth
    Founder, SoPact, “Measure what Matters”
    SoPact (http://sopact.com) | Ektta (http://ektta.org)|

  3. Beth says:

    Unmesh, I think Kim is pretty amazing and I’m delighted that you have shared your measurement platform – amazing.

Leave a Reply