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Conquering the Divide: How to Strengthen Relationships with Funders

Nonprofits, collective impact practitioners, social enterprises, and government agencies all rely on funding to deliver essential services that make a positive impact in the communities they serve. Organizations looking to build stronger relationships with funders in the coming months can do so by following these simple steps: take a data-driven approach to strategy, provide timely data-informed strategic communications, and use data to maintain transparency and trust. 

Is Data Driving Your Organization’s Overall Strategy?

Founded in 2017, The Matriots PAC is a statewide nonpartisan political action committee focused on electing more Ohio women to public office. Prior to this report, female representation in office had never been formally accounted for by the Ohio Secretary of State. The Matriots selected SureImpact’s sister company, Measurement Resources Company to conduct this research. 

The data revealed that only 29 percent of all positions in Ohio are held by women, according to the 2016-2017 term for local government, and the 2017-2018 term for federal, state, county and judiciary. At 36 percent, the highest proportional representation of women in Ohio office today is at the school board level. This baseline data is now driving the Matriot’s overall strategy, and has allowed the organization to prioritize which elections to concentrate on, to create the most impact possible. 

If your organization is new to taking a data-driven approach, collecting baseline data across all of your initiatives is priority number one. Without this baseline data, an organization cannot adequately describe the extent to which it is making an impact. A data-driven, outcomes measurement strategy keeps all of the organization’s energy on a set of desired outcomes. Funders and donors also want and need to know that their investments are driving the most change possible. 

Data-Informed Strategic Communications Key to Successful Collaboration

The Mid-Ohio Foodbank, again with the founders of both Measurement Resources and SureImpact, developed a new approach for estimating the actual need for food assistance at the county level. Using the Franklin County Missing Meals Index method, a meal gap was calculated for each of the 20 counties in the Mid-Ohio Foodbank service region

The Mid-Ohio Foodbank shared this report broadly with community partners. This data-informed approach to strategic communications demonstrates impact to funders and helps all stakeholders better understand the biggest areas of need. With everyone working from the same information, there is less duplication of effort and resources are deployed where they are needed most. And each organization working to end hunger in these counties can more easily collaborate by modulating its contributions to ensure that the response to the current needs of their collective beneficiaries is both timely and appropriate. The results from this effort include stronger relationships and better coordination of services among the collaborating organizations, as well as an increased understanding of the need from the donor perspective. 

Additionally, foundations and other funders that are trying to solve specific community-level challenges frequently compare and aggregate outcomes across multiple organizations. They want the ability to tell their own stories of impact relative to the cumulative investments they’ve made to address that specific challenge. By providing this data, you demonstrate that your organization is a true partner in achieving the funder’s vision of community-level change, while remaining steadfast in your commitment to your own organization’s mission.  

Relationships are Built on Transparency and Trust

Transparency and trust continue to be the cornerstones of all good relationships. That’s why it is important to keep your organization’s funders and donors informed, even in between grant cycles. They understand that organizations need to pivot, shift, or even completely abandon the original approach included in the grant application. As more information becomes available, keeping your funders abreast of these changes as they occur helps keep the lines of communication open. 

Funders also have unique insight into other organizations, community networks, and have connections with experts and resources that you simply may not have. By learning from others throughout the social sector, your team and organization will realize short- and long-term benefits from this multi-dimensional growth. Using data, you can have more meaningful conversations with your funders to jointly hack issues as they arise. Not only will this level of transparency show your intentions of being the best possible steward of their investments, it keeps them engaged in your cause. 

To learn more about how SureImpact can help your organization strengthen its relationships with funders and stakeholders using data, contact us today.


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