In the social sector, we are in the business of realizing social change. Just like any business, success depends on understanding the needs of our buyers. In this case, the buyers are the funders and donors who give financial resources to social sector organizations because they are passionate about an organization’s cause. They are also passionate about using their financial resources to serve the community and want some level of reassurance that their investments in an organization are truly creating lasting social change.
The good news is that social sector leaders can use data to take action now to satisfy the needs of both funders and donors, and position their organizations as leaders in the community. Here are four steps to ensure that your funders and donors have the information they want and need to make sure they are maximizing the impact of their giving.
Step 1: Zoom Out
It’s easy for social sector professionals to become hyper-focused on the countless day-to-day operational details, especially given the current economic climate. But it’s more important than ever before to focus on the outcomes that your programs and services are having on your organization’s participants. Outcomes demonstrate how lives and circumstances have changed as a result of your programs and services. And it’s not enough to simply create a year-end report with a list of outcomes; to be a leader in the community, you need a way for you and your funders to monitor outcomes in real time.
Step 2: Prove your Social Return on Investment
What real costs to the community, whether in the form of taxpayer dollars or long-term societal consequences, would occur if your programs and services didn’t exist, or weren’t successful? By collecting and analyzing data that demonstrates the degree to which your organization is solving social challenges, you can begin to calculate your social return on investment. You need a data collection solution that empowers employees across your organization to contribute meaningful data, which can then be easily accessed at any time for on-demand analysis and reporting, making it simple for you to prove your effectiveness.
Step 3: Demonstrate Quality and Consistency
Staff changes, promotions, inadequate time to train new employees or volunteers, and other urgent priorities can cause fluctuation in the consistency of data collection, as well as program implementation. It is important to clearly articulate your organization’s measures and document the measurement plan so that programs are implemented consistently over time, and in many cases, as you described in your grant application. A data collection solution, such as SureImpact, simplifies the process for ensuring consistency and collecting accurate data.
Step 4: Create a Transparent, Data-Driven Learning Culture
When your organization applies for funding and includes data to support both past performance and future projections of how that funder’s investment will yield the desired results, your application will receive the attention it deserves. Additionally, organizations that test new hypotheses and evaluate the results of those tests regularly are learning—and applying that learning to their existing programs. This continuous loop of innovation brings desirable attributes such as increased effectiveness, equity, and efficiencies that add even more value to funders’ investments. And by inviting funders to take an active role in tracking the performance of their investment, you will gain trust and build long-lasting relationships.
Begin Tracking and Reporting Your Outcomes Today
Articulating your organization’s social impact is a powerful way to instantly engage stakeholders and funders. By demonstrating the degree to which you are changing the world, funders and other stakeholders will become more invested in your cause than ever before.
Social sector organizations need a data collection and reporting solution that bridges the gap between frontline staff and funders who want to know the social return on their investment. SureImpact was built for the social sector by people with more than a decade of experience working with government agencies, nonprofits, and collective impact initiatives. SureImpact is a user-friendly case management platform that thinks like a collective impact outcomes generator. This cloud-based solution empowers organizations to manage, measure, and communicate their unique social impact.
If you are ready to leverage your organization’s data into stronger relationships with your funders and donors, contact us today to schedule a conversation with one of our team members.