We know the importance of measuring our organization’s effectiveness. Experienced grant writers and grant makers will tell you that the outcomes section of the grant application is what distinguishes the good organizations from the great.
But it is no longer just foundations that are interested in our outcomes. Individual donors, corporations, and government funders also want us to justify our work. And they all have one question in mind: What is your impact?
Now there is a free, online tool to walk us through this process. Charting Impact is a website, created by the Independent Sector, Better Business Bureau and GuideStar, that assists nonprofits in communicating their impact to key stakeholders. After answering a set of fairly simple questions, the nonprofit receives a unique URL address that they can link to from their website or other e-marketing materials. Each organization’s report is also available to those searching the Charting Impact database – so prospective funders (from anywhere in the world) can learn more about the impact of your organization.
The report provides a concise synopsis of your organization – including its mission and plan for accomplishing said mission. As a method to share powerful information about your organization, the Charting Impact report can both be the foundation of your case for support for donors as well as a way to advance your organization’s strategic thinking.
As with anything, the end result is only as useful as the effort you put into it. So take the time to collaborate with key staff and volunteers. Below are the seemingly simple five questions:
1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?
2. What are your strategies for making this happen?
3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?
4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?
5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?
Why It’s Important
Walking through this process will advance strategic planning by explaining how you got to your current state and how you are going to move forward. But equally important, measuring your impact creates quantifiable evidence of progress for your donors and key stakeholders. It will help arm your board and volunteers with the evidence they need to be champions of your cause.
Just remember, keep it simple, motivational, and jargon free. It might be helpful to have an outsider read it over before you hit submit. The Charting Impact site includes a sample report as well as some other useful tips.
In the end, we need to be better at telling our story – and explaining our impact. The only way we will be able to do that is through practice. Kudos to IS, BBB and GuideStar for making the process pain free! Click here to get started.