You’re a mission-driven organization. You focus on shaving costs without sacrificing services so that you get the most bang for your donor’s buck.
Yet there’s one final puzzle piece that donors look for: IMPACT.
What is the impact of your work? What results are you delivering? How can you quantify them?
These are important questions that investors, donors, and granting organizations want answered. Yet answering such questions is challenging.
Nonprofits who fail to answer these questions leave themselves open to criticism and suspicion. Yet it can be challenging, as well as expensive, to have an independent auditor fully evaluate the impact that your organization’s programs and services make on your constituents.
There is a middle ground between answering the impact question and avoiding it. Several tools exist to help nonprofits demonstrate a commitment to making an impact and using funds wisely towards fulfilling their mission.
- Impact Matters: Impact Matters offers a simple and free tool to quantify the impact that nonprofits make. With permission, the company also posts the results to Charity Navigator. This provides a clear signal to people searching Charity Navigator that you take impact seriously. The tool is relatively new, and may not be free forever, so you may want to investigate it as soon as possible.
- Charting Impact: Charting Impact is a joint project of Independent Sector, GuideStar, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance. It provides a questionnaire that helps you build a framework within your organization to measure the impact of your work. By using this framework and sharing the results with your constituents, you provide them with a transparent look into your organization’s education to making an impact.
- Give Well: Give Well states that it is a “nonprofit dedicated to finding outstanding giving opportunities through in-depth analysis.” The organization conducts its own research into the effectiveness of specific charities. Organizations which have been assessed by Give Well tend to see increases in donations, according to the site, because of the independent evaluation Give Well provides.
DIY Methods of Measuring Impact
Let’s assume you work in a small nonprofit. What are your options for measuring impact? You’re not working with multimillion dollar budgets or global issues; you’re trying to help clean up the local waterways, or reduce illiteracy, or find a safe haven for battered women. How can your nonprofit evaluate its impact?
- The first step is to have a solid mission statement. The mission statement of your organization is more than just a nice paragraph to recap your organization’s purpose. It should be the yardstick by which you measure all new activities and expenditures. Dust off your mission statement and review it.
- Next, decide the “how”. How will you achieve your mission? List the programs and services that your organization participates in that support its mission.
- Now think about all the ways in which you can measure those programs and services. Perhaps it is the number of people served or animals adopted, the amount of trash you’ve cleaned up, or the improvements in the water quality. Quantifiable data is great (number measurement) but qualitative data may also be important.
- Record your improvements and establish a timeline by which you will measure them regularly.
- When you’re confident in your findings, publish them so that your constituents gain insight into your organization’s results.
You can’t measure what you can’t monitor, so don’t reach too high and pick things to monitor that are impossible to measure with any certainty.
And remember the importance of storytelling when it comes to making an impact. Yes, numbers are important, but so too are case studies, photos, and videos of people sharing how your organization has made a difference in their lives. It is this complete picture of both qualitative and quantitative data that helps constituents understand the full impact of your organization.
You make a difference. Now it’s time to measure its impact! Get started today, no matter how small or simple the steps, and gain confidence as you move forward. There’s no time like the present to start.
Welter Consulting bridges nonprofits and solutions to help them find technology that works for them. We invite you to contact us for any assistance you need with nonprofit technology and business solutions. Call 206-605-3113 or contact us.