Measuring How Nonprofits Measure Impact

By | September 16, 2016

Measuring How Nonprofits Measure Impact

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How many times has a prospective donor asked you about your nonprofit’s “impact?” And more importantly, how did you respond? The impact revolution in philanthropy has proved challenging for nonprofits who have historically focused on delivering programs and services and spending less time on documenting metrics and outcomes. But it’s a new day as Gary Laermer,  Chief Development Officer, YMCA of Greater New York, says in his article, “Measuring How We Measure Impact,”

In an increasingly data-driven world, nonprofits are feeling the pressure to quantitatively demonstrate their effectiveness, reach and impact. In tandem, donors are, more than ever, meticulously benchmarking and comparing nonprofits to see which align with their personal values and contribute in a way they feel is most impactful.

Ultimately, Laermer’s message is that nonprofits must maintain a focus on donor relationships but also pay attention to the impact of their organization without going overboard; a delicate balance is required.

In recent years, nonprofits have been under greater scrutiny by ratings organizations like Guidestar and Charity Navigator. As donor reliance on this ratings systems has increased, the methodologies by which nonprofits are being evaluated have come under greater scrutiny as well. For example, Charity Navigator made a significant change to their evaluation standards earlier this year that – overnight – led to a ratings drop for 640 charities.

So is “impact reporting” the new state of being for nonprofits? Maybe not. Ken Berger, who was abruptly dismissed as CEO of Charity Navigator in April 2015, recently co-authored an article admitting that the nonprofit “impact revolution” may perhaps have been…misdirected.

And so the world turns.

This is not to say that demonstrating your nonprofit’s impact isn’t important, but it is part of a larger story about creating relationships with donors and inspiring them to help in carrying out your mission and more importantly, your vision for the future. There are great resources out there to help nonprofits up their game in this area, including this list of helpful resources from the National Council of Nonprofits.

To celebrate the revival of #fundchat, and with a tip ‘o the hat to Laermer, our next discussion is titled, “Measuring How Nonprofits Measure Impact.” Join the conversation at 12 pm EST on Wednesday, September 21.

Ensure a Successful #fundchat

  • Share this post with your social networks! Invite your colleagues to join the conversation.
  • PLEASE! Suggest questions that we should ask during the chat to guide the discussion (use the comments section below).
  • Review the question line-up for the discussion. We typically post these guiding questions the morning of the chat.
  • Participate in the conversation. Don’t forget to follow and use the hashtag. You can also use our live discussion page.

Guiding Questions
Here is the line-up of guiding questions that will be posted to facilitate the discussion (one posted every 10 minutes during the chat:

  • Q1 How does your nonprofit measure its ‘impact?’ What metrics are front and center?
  • Q2 What kinds of information are donors looking for to “prove” impact and how do you accommodate them?
  • Q3 Complete this sentence: “Increased scrutiny about our nonprofit’s impact has meant…”
  • Q4 How does greater interest in your org’s impact change your approach to fundraising and/or communication?
  • Q5 Overall, is an increased focus on “impact” good, bad, or indifferent for nonprofits?

About #fundchat
#fundchat is a regular conversation on Twitter (typically moderated by @brendankinney) where experts share and discuss topics related to nonprofit fundraising and marketing. Joining #fundchat is easy. Use your favorite Twitter client to follow the hashtag (#fundchat!) during 12 – 1 pm EST to see the conversation in action. When chiming in, be sure to include the hashtag in your tweet.

Transcript

One thought on “Measuring How Nonprofits Measure Impact

  1. Rhea

    This is very interesting. I think another dimension of impact reporting that isn’t mentioned here is the importance of showing impact to capture new millennial donors.

    Reply

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