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What is an Impact Roadmap and Why You Need One

At SureImpact, we have long championed a transition away from simply measuring what nonprofits did (outputs) to how individuals, families, and communities are better off (outcomes and impact).


Organizations with high-performance measurement cultures know that outcome measures are a more appropriate indicator of effectiveness. By fully communicating that impact story to funders, nonprofits can attract new sources of funding and increase collaboration and investment from funders and stakeholders.


Unfortunately, only about 27% of nonprofit organizations and 18% of government organizations have currently adopted these cultures.


That’s why we were so excited to see that NonProfit PRO published an article by Rebecca Britt entitled “It’s Time to Rethink Strategic Planning and Introduce the Impact Roadmap.”


Rebecca, a former social worker, executive director, and nonprofit founder, has led innovative evaluation efforts to assess patient perspective to improve prenatal and postpartum care.


In her article, Rebecca advocates for a shift in nonprofit strategic planning towards a more impactful approach that she calls the "Impact Roadmap."


She argues that the common practice of creating strategic plans typically generates a rote document that rarely lays out a plan for real impact. Organizations should instead focus on clarifying their mission, defining specific goals, and outlining measurable outcomes.


Her Impact Roadmap consists of three main steps: crafting a purpose-driven mission statement, identifying focus areas or "vehicles for change," and detailing success metrics and key activities for each focus area. The roadmap serves as a practical guide for organizations to prioritize their efforts and demonstrate their impact effectively to stakeholders, particularly funders.


Through this approach, nonprofits can align their activities more closely with their mission and achieve meaningful outcomes – enabling them to tell a more compelling story.


This isn’t just a theory. We’ve seen this play out in our work.


The Shift Has Already Begun

We’re excited to see a groundswell around the concept of impact measurement and reporting.


A recent article on Forbes.com, 19 Forbes Nonprofit Council members shared their predictions of top trends they believe will dominate the nonprofit sector in 2024. One of them was “Impact Communication” – the ideal culmination of Rebecca’s “Impact Roadmap” methodology.


You’ve likely heard about philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her large, unrestricted gifts to social-good organizations. She and other funders like her use a data-driven approach to select the organizations who can demonstrate their impact and show they can absorb and make effective use of funding.

Anecdotally, SureImpact clients are able to collect and share the data they need to prove to funders that their clients are better off because of the work they are doing.

 

Organizations with a high-impact measurement culture can allocate resources more efficiently, prioritize initiatives based on their potential for positive outcomes, and continuously improve their programs and services to better meet the needs of their constituents. The result, when communicated to funders? More funding!


Technology is a Critical Component

Once an organization has defined success metrics and key activities for each focus area, as Rebecca Britt recommends, collecting those metrics in real-time and in a scalable way becomes the next biggest challenge. Without dedicated impact measurement software, this task can be almost insurmountable.


Not only can you leverage technology to track and measure activities and outcomes for your service recipients, you can also make real-time data-driven decisions based on that data – something that is impossible in spreadsheets and traditional case management software.


Dive Deeper Into These Concepts

We applaud NonProfit PRO and Rebecca Britt for challenging the status quo when it comes to strategic planning. Hopefully, an organizational culture where true outcomes measurement is driving decision-making will soon become the norm rather than the exception.

 

On February 27, 2024, we’ll be hosting a free webinar: Proving Your Impact: What Funders Really Want to Know. Join us to learn about what funders are really looking for and how to make your organization stand out as the best investment.


You can register for free here >>

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