Philanthropist, Social Entrepreneur, Founder, Improv Star
Look at both the quantitative and qualitative when measuring impact.
Social entrepreneurs measure impact through the bottom line(s) and advancement of their mission.
Impact is not just about affecting people but also affecting people efficiently.
Lesson: Double Bottom Line with Pamela Hawley
Step #3 Impact: Defining success
When you measure impact, or good, there are many, many different levels that you can look at that. I think what people have to look at is both the quantitative and qualitative. Sometimes it is very easy to say we pass through this amount of dollars on the site. We pass through this many volunteers.
Then you get into some more nuances that are very challenging to measure which is, let's say, with universal giving, we have tons of people, thousands, volunteering to universal giving. But then we don't capture, for example right now, are they coming back and volunteering on that trip again? Did they invite some of their friends? Did they hold a fundraising party? I mean, we capture some of it but to get all of it, it's near impossible because not everyone is going to report back to you. So you have a lot of intangible value that you can't capture.
But it's still numerical. If we could, we'd find out from every single person how many of you came back and put on a fundraising event. How many of you stayed involved in that nonprofit, went back and volunteered again? Now those are all quantitative metrics. First, just who donated, who volunteered, and the next one is what if they are kind of returning of that kind of continued activity?
But equally important as well is also the qualitative which is what were the relationships engendered? Who is affected? And it is not just an international fund. What we see a lot with our donors and volunteers is their lives impacted. And this is qualitative in the sense that they might make a career change, they might decide to do something different, they might leave their big corporate job and go become an international consultant in technology helping nonprofits, or they might leave a government or lawyer job in order to go help start their own nonprofit. And so we see life changes. Those are qualitative. We see changes in how they govern their family, that they start donating a portion of their child's allowance to giving.
So when you start to see those behavioral indices, that is what is really powerful when you are measuring impact. Now, it is harder to do but it is equally if not important of the numbers. The numbers are just X amount of people who have given. But the positives of qualitative can just transform a community if not a city.
Effectiveness in nonprofits is something that each nonprofit has to measure in their own way. With social entrepreneurs, often that effectiveness can be from the bottom line as well as what they are doing on the mission front. With nonprofits and effectiveness, I think especially with funders, you have to come up with an agreement about what is effectiveness and that certainly starts with your organization and with the board. What is considered effective? What are the ways that you measure results, both in qualitative and quantitative ways?
And so effectiveness can’t just be for serving people. It is how efficiently are you serving people. And that is actually something that really is unique to each nonprofit. I'd recommend that you find something that is both balancing the numbers and the way you are impacting people's lives. If you look at effectiveness you can also innumerate it as outputs and outcomes. This is often used by foundations. So for example an output would be a strict number, so for example that might be 20 homeless people were served. But an outcome is that a homeless person end up getting a job for six months, keeping it when they tracked it a year later, and getting off drugs. That is an outcome of getting a job. It is not something that can be completely quantified.
So a scorecard has been developed out of Harvard Business School. It is an amazing tool and basically what it allows you to do is to go in and figure out all the different areas in your organization. For us we have different business units. Marketing, corporate, NGO, development, product development, executive assistants. And you are able to come up with a scorecard for each area that enumerates the results that should happen, and make sure that it is happening within each business unit and across each business unit. It is a very in-depth tool and something that has just been really devoted to by Harvard and I have a lot of respect for it. I think that it is something you have to make sure that you have the resources to implement, re-evaluate, again and again. It is not just slap a scorecard on your organization. You always have to make sure you are very active in measuring these results.