Impact Conversations: Actionable Impact Management
November 10, 2016
Nonprofits and other grantee program organizations have a hard fought impact on the world. This impact is the product of enduring emotional resilience, resourceful creativity, and work. A lot of work. Behind the effort, fueling that work, social impact is driven by funders.
But if someone were to ask your foundation, ‘what is your impact?’ Would your answer be able to go beyond stories from the field and general output numbers? Would your answer talk to quantitative results, causality, and significant data insights?
Actionable Impact Management is a data-driven process for impact measurement and assessment developed by SoPact (a software company for the social sector), social impact assessment consultants, and a research team out of the University of Melbourne. This step-by-step guide to getting organizations on the path to understanding their impact combines technological expertise tailored to the unique needs of the social sector with social impact expertise. From offline mobile data collection and cost effective data aggregation to metrics selection, Lean Impact Measurement’s ever-evolving framework intends to be actionable and flexible for realistic implementation.
Foundations and their program organizations face unique data challenges. For starters, differing interpretations of metrics may lead to corroded data. Strained resources combined with limited technological insights may result in underutilized tools or overlooked alternatives to inadequate tools.
Join SoPact for a conversation around our four step Actionable Impact Management process:
• Pre-Work: Impact Conversations
• Step One: Metrics Discovery
• Step Two: Data Collection Strategy
• Step Three: Data Collection
• Step Four: Demonstrating Impact
Step One: Metrics Discovery
We believe in the importance of moving beyond output-driven impact analysis. Without well-defined outcomes, it is difficult to create a collective impact with the potential to meet the funder’s mission. While foundations have implemented the measurement of outcome metrics, they are being surpassed in performance by the newer field of impact investment. There are clear ways around the challenges to measuring highly customized program related metrics.
Step Two: Data Collection Strategy
If your data collection process includes the rudimentary use of paper and excel, you are in the majority. This is common practice amongst social sector entities. However, advances in technology are currently available that if implemented could reduce the likelihood of human error in reporting, aggregate disconnected data, automate pieces of your reporting process, and produce data visualization and organization for strategic insights. By having a plan for your data collection formula, you can cut back on the time spent on collection and spend more time on strategic insights.
Step Three: Data Collection
As mentioned, there are a series of best practices in collecting data reports that substantially cut back on the likelihood of human error. By improving your data collection experience for partners, you also increase the efficiency of the process as a whole.
Step Four: Demonstrating Impact
There is a growing trend towards better understanding actual impact. It is not enough to have good intentions expecting stakeholders to accept assumptions. Impact is being demanded, and there are now many methods for demonstrating it. Data-driven impact can be communicated through various mediums. Once you have the data, it is important to demonstrate it effectively.
So what’s your impact? Impact Conversations about Impact Methodology Trends around the critiquing of the social sector time and again point to the importance of minimizing overhead costs. While this provokes a general shying away from developing capacity building of partners, we strongly believe that without capacity building, the mission of an organization simply cannot succeed. This includes an organization’s infrastructure around impact measurement, assessment, management, and demonstration.
Unmesh is the founder of the SoPact. SoPact is a personal vision that grew from 30 years of experience in technology, management, and the social sector.