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How Impact Funds Leverage Technology for Impact Management

Impact Management | impact investing

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Lorena is passionate about using technology to solve the impact measurement challenges in the social sector, such as impact strategy, data collection, data aggregation, validation, reporting, visualization, and evaluation.

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Posted on 2018-08-13

"It was great to see how the Impact Cloud™  software uses language I'm familiar with. This made it easier for us to use compared to other systems." Nancy Metzger, Executive Director of Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN). Her impact fund is based out of Wisconsin in the U.S. and funds microfinance institutions (MFIs) across Latin America. The software she is referring to, Impact Cloud™, is an impact data management tool for mission driven organizations like hers.

WCCN

How the Data Management Works

For the past few years, WCCN's staff has been using Google forms to collect data from around 30 investees, which they store and analyze on Excel spreadsheets. The data captured through this process is prone to inaccuracies because of misunderstandings in the metrics requests. As a result, her staff have to spend weeks tracking Google form submissions, cleaning and validating the data for aggregation and analysis. It is always a race against time to have the analysis done in time to complete the annual report before the next year’s reporting process begins. Nancy and her team feel that the process is filled with too many inconsistencies and not enough time for analysis...let alone strategic planning.

The Transition

Nancy hoped there was a tool out there that would cover her end-to-end data needs for impact measurement and reporting. In 2015, Nancy joined SoPact as a test user for the Impact Cloud™ pilot program. With her fund’s insights, and SoPact’s technical expertise, the Impact Cloud™ software platform grew to become a robust end-to-end impact management tool. This process took just under one year of iterations and improvements to the system.

The Vision

Since January 2017, WCCN has been using Impact Cloud™ software for their data collection cycle. With continuous feedback from their funded partners on user experience, WCCN aims to accomplish a completely streamlined impact management process by the end of the year. This process includes a better experience for their partners reporting data from the field in Latin America, an easier follow-up with the partners presenting delays on their data entry, and a faster data aggregation and analysis through visual aids that give Nancy and her team quick insights into WCCN’s developing impact. Finally, once all the data is aggregated, a drag-and-drop report generating feature will allow her team to conveniently produce a variety of reports for different stakeholders and purposes. At some point, Nancy's goal is to share these reports with their partners to show them their years’ worth of impact. This will not only be helpful for the microfinance institutions (MFIs) that they give money to, but incentivizes the MFIs to submit the data accurately and on time in the future.

 fairtrade-1The game is changing

While in the past writing a check was enough, organizations like WCCN have demonstrated a true concern for how their investments actually benefit the causes they believe in. WCCN is an example of how technology can be used in the Impact Investment field to reduce administrative work and dedicate more time and resources to strategic planning for a higher impact on the beneficiary organizations. Social impact measurement tools like Impact Cloud ™ are changing the game of social impact assessment, making it more accessible and manageable. 

SoPact is collaborating with major players in Impact Management to drive a systematic change.  That means working on implementation based on recommendation or guidelines by various leadership organizations such as Toniic, Impact Management Project & Global Value Exchange.

Join the change

SoPact’s Impact Cloud™ is applying its data collection, aggregation, visualization and report building features to a variety of impact organizations including social enterprises, foundations, and impact funds. An innovative player in the space, we are continuously engaging new perspectives.

All photos in this post were taken by Michael Kienitz for Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN).

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