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How can nonprofits measure impact?
Hetal Sheth 6/17/22 9:51 AM 4 min read

Case Study: Scaling Up to End Poverty

“No poverty” is number one in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And with good reason. According to the World Bank, an estimated 660 million people live in extreme poverty, calculated at less than $1.90 per day. In the United States alone, 37.2 million people live in poverty. It is a fact that these numbers exist. Nonprofit organizations are working to achieve this goal. Nonprofits have their own challenges, including measuring their impact. It is essential for nonprofits to measure their impact in order to learn and improve their programs over time. As a result, they would be able to achieve the outcomes.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented spike in poverty rates around the world and drove more people into poverty. Unfortunately, Latin America and the Caribbean is a regions of the world where poverty is chronic. Food for the Poor helps families in 17 Latin America and Caribbean countries by providing food, water, housing, emergency relief, and other development opportunities. Sopact partnered with Food for the Poor to overcome their impact measurement challenges, scale their impact, and make a difference in the fight against poverty. This is their impact journey.

Measuring nonprofit Impact

Food for the Poor has a large programmatic reach. They serve 17 different countries with stakeholders that speak multiple languages. Organizations with an extensive portfolio of programs often have challenges aggregating their data across countries. Food for the Poor’s data was collected by hand and painstakingly cleaned and scored in spreadsheets for all their programs. Data in various languages also made information sharing difficult without laborious manual translation. Food for the Poor’s long reporting and learning cycle limited the insight that could be gained from program evaluation. Finally, Food for the Poor needed alignment to global standards of impact.

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Nonprofit KPI Dashboard Steps

Through engagement with Sopact, Food for the Poor optimized its extensive portfolio to overcome its impact measurement and management challenges. The priorities for the project were: 

  • Develop an impact strategy
  • Implement data mapping and management
  • Align to global standards
  • Collect stakeholder feedback in multiple languages
  • Measure social impact evidence
  • Dynamic dashboard to make program decisions

The Sopact team helped Food for the Poor develop an impact strategy. This included developing a Theory of Change to help connect the dots between the components of their programs and the impact goals. As a result, food for the Poor aligned its objectives to the UN’s SDGs, making cross-country comparison possible through a global language.

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Food for the poor program themes

Data management is more streamlined and efficient, saving the monitoring and evaluation team many hours. Stakeholder data is automatically collected, translated, aggregated, and stored in a single platform, Impact Cloud®. With this aggregate data analyzed in real-time dashboards, the organization has deeper insight into its programs and performance. In addition, through continuous learning, they have the opportunity to scale their impact by community or country.

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Nonprofit's Outcomes Combating Poverty

Poverty has devastating and broad consequences for those who live in it. Childhood poverty has life-long consequences. Poverty causes family conflict, health problems, exclusion from education, exclusion from housing, and increased crime and victimization. However, we know that good data on these issues can lead to better health and well-being for any community. Food for the Poor manages individual country data as well as aggregated insight to make program-level decisions on the dashboards.

Eradicating poverty isn’t just about bottom-line economic growth. For example, food for the Poor programs takes multiple interventions to help families out of poverty: food, water, education, housing, health, income, and more. Scaling impact is all about fighting for those interventions and changing lives. 

Improved impact measurement and management (IMM) allows Food for the Poor to understand what benefits its stakeholders are experiencing and what are they expecting. They can then turn up the volume on the work programs and refine the programs that need adjustment.

Read More: 5 Ways to Improve Nonprofit Theory of Change

Scaling up to fight poverty - Impact of Nonprofit

Food for the Poor is combating poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean. With such an expansive portfolio of programs, streamlined data and alignment with international standards are critical to driving their impact. Now, they have deeper insight from their impact evidence and will be able to touch more lives.

Now they have continuous learnings such as,

  • Who are stakeholders in each country they work in?
  • What is their housing, health, water availability,  education, and income situation? 
  • What are their fundamental needs? 

Learn more about this organization’s work on its website. Read more about Sopact’s work in economic development on our solutions page. 

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Photo by Riya Kumari

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Hetal Sheth

The founder of Ektta, and co-founder of SoPact, Hetal holds a deep passion for establishing enduring impact management practices in the social sector to have built-in learning and accountability.