For more than a decade, Measurement Resources Company has helped mission-driven organizations use the right data and measurement strategies to improve the performance of programs, enhance the overall effectiveness of the organization, and achieve improved outcomes—all in service to accelerating positive social change. Through our work with nonprofit and government agencies, we have identified six strategies that successful social sector organizations put into practice that, without fail, result in exponentially increasing their social impact.
1. Define Your Organization’s Purpose
For most organizations, the mission statement holds the essence of why the organization exists and the social challenge you’re meant to be solving. However, the environments in which we deliver these solutions within the social sector are in constant flux. Consider how much has changed within the last six months as a result of COVID-19. We no longer (did we ever?) have the luxury to continue legacy programs and practices that do not advance the purpose of the organization and produce the desired outcomes that directly correlate to the challenges your organization is trying to solve. Re-grounding your organization in its purpose is the first step to ensure that all of your resources are deployed in a manner that will help to maximize mission results.
2. Leverage Technology
To fully realize the remaining strategies, having a platform in place that makes tracking and measuring select outputs and outcomes easy is a best practice among high-achieving social sector organizations. Such a solution helps organizations clearly define what and how it counts all activities across the organization, as well as between organizations for those participating in collective impact initiatives. Over the years, Measurement Resources’ president and founder, Sheri Chaney Jones, saw how critical this element was, and how nonprofits struggled to try to adapt solutions that were not designed for the social sector. This is what inspired her to launch SureImpact, a cloud-based solution that empowers organizations to manage, measure and communicate their unique social impact.
3. Develop a Data-driven Culture
Organizations that have data-driven cultures are unified in their focus on clear and measurable objectives. While bias within teams of staff will always exist to some degree, the decision-making process within data-driven cultures evaluates each program’s or service’s ability to achieve impact. Performance, from the individual employee on up to the larger, programmatic areas or suites of services, is aligned and measured against the overarching goals of the organization.
4. Perform Routine Analysis and Evaluation
Once a case management and reporting solution is in place, regular analysis and evaluation is necessary to make micro-shifts in an organization’s strategy. Continuous improvements can be made over time, and when unusual events occur that skew anticipated results, in-depth analysis can be conducted on the spot to more quickly address the situation.
5. Make Data-driven Decisions
Whether you are forecasting the anticipated needs of your participants, or looking at past program performance, without data, you are simply making best guesses as to what is needed or why you achieved certain results. With many organizations operating with limited resources and the potential impact on peoples’ lives, who can truly afford to take this sort of risk? High-achieving organizations seek to understand and make decisions based on all the intelligence they are able to collect. ‘What does the data say and why?’ are the questions being asked at each and every crossroad.
6. Communicate the Narrative (and the Data Behind the Narrative)
As humans, we tend to remember stories over statistics. But in addition to telling compelling narratives to influence the actions of your organization’s various constituents, it is essential that you have the data to back up those stories. Funders, donors and other stakeholders feel more confident investing in organizations that are transparent in terms of the instrument they use to make informed decisions and tell their social impact stories. And, not only do organizations that use this approach experience greater mission outcomes, they attract additional funding that empowers them to expand the initiatives that are leading to this social impact.
Regardless of where your organization is on its journey toward becoming an impact-centric organization, Measurement Resources and SureImpact can help you overcome any number of barriers you are currently facing. If you would like to explore how your organization can increase its social impact by following these six strategies, we invite you to contact us today.