In times of economic and social turbulence, the social-service sector continues to play an increasingly pivotal role in the long-term stability of individuals, families, and communities. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics there are approximately 1.5 million nonprofit organizations that receive $1.59 trillion in annual revenues in order to address some of society’s most complex issues. Despite these financial resources and the human capital devoted to solving the issues, many of our national and local social indicators have remained stagnant or gotten worse, even before the pandemic.
When funding gets tight, government, foundations, and other funders start asking the difficult questions. They start to wonder what impact the previous $1.59 trillion invested into the community had and where their precious resources should go to make the most difference. While it can feel overwhelming to have funders ask more questions about how their funding is being used, it is also an opportunity for your organization to make some changes that will highlight the great work you are doing and help you stand out among other organizations seeking the same funding. Solving complex societal challenges and creating long-term stability will require a new level of collaboration and transparency among direct-service providers, funders, and other stakeholders. In order to maximize their impact, leaders and nonprofit organizations must start to or improve how they measure and communicate their impact, and how they use these data to improve effective programming. This is especially true for collaboratives with multiple participating organizations.
Collaboratives are a powerful force for good in the community, enabling funders, direct-service providers, government entities, and other community stakeholders to work together to address complex issues and implement systems change strategies to continuously improve. Here are three steps collaboratives can take in order to create maximize their impact in the community:
Get Clear on Your Desired Medium and Long-Term Outcomes: Before you start to measure anything, it is important that your collaborative understands conceptually what big changes and results it hopes to achieve. Ask the question: What will our clients’ lives or the community look like if we are 100% successful? What social indicators will be impacted if we achieve this goal?
Define and set bold long-term organizational goals: These goals should be measurable and aligned with your desired outcomes. They should be focused on the changes experienced by your grantees and their communities. Bold, life-changing goals will propel your collaborative’s decision-making towards achieving true impact for individuals, families, and communities.
Create a continuous feedback loop with real-time outcome and impact data: Real-time reporting is an effective way for grantees, funders, and other stakeholders to stay in touch throughout funding cycles and learn valuable lessons about what is working and what needs improvement. In addition, when funders are in touch regularly with grantees, they have more opportunities to provide strategic guidance that builds grantee capacity.
Moreover, collecting and sharing data in real time has an impact on learning, strategy, and implementation – for foundation staff and grantees alike. Building a continuous feedback loop empowers grantees to tell a meaningful story about their objectives and enables foundations to readily demonstrate to their board and other stakeholders how their grant-making activities support their mission.
SureImpact connects collaboratives with the real-time data collection and reporting infrastructure that enables continuous feedback loops. Sureimpact gives frontline staff the insights they have never had before to manage their work. Supervisors and managers now how information to have outcome conversations with their staff. Executives and leaders have access to data at their fingertips and no longer must go down the chain and wait for someone to send them the data. Funders and backbone organizations have access to real-time insights into the overall success of the collaborative’s shared measures.
To learn how SureImpact can help your collaborative to improve how you measure and communicate your impact, contact us today. Also, check out our on-demand webinar “Engaged & Empowered: How to use technology to improve collaboration and efficiency, and drive social impact.”