Measuring Nonprofit Impact and Outcomes – data is key!
Your organization, your nonprofit’s impact, perhaps it’s very existence is based upon the outcome it has on your community and stakeholders. Underlying everything that you do are some key questions that you should be able to answer:
- Do our programs make a real difference to the people that we serve?
- What evidence of impact can we show to our funders and other stakeholders?
- Given that our resources are finite, what programs should we focus on?
Answering these questions means that you need to have the data to back it up. Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand that you can wave to bring all the data together. It means putting in place systems and technology to gather the data in as easy a manner as possible.
In this article, we talk about nonprofits that focus on after-school programs, summer camps, sports programs, music, dance and art programs. Especially ones that deal with children and youth. In the time that we’ve worked in this area, we found that there are three basic pillars that you need for success.
- Automate manual tasks (get more face time with the kids)
- Build your systems for scale (do it right and you will grow)
- Track the right data (prove your impact and secure more funding)
Automate Manual Tasks
Software can help to automate tedious, manual processes. One example of this is attendance tracking for your programs. Instead of spending time, manually completing this task with clipboard and paper or a spreadsheet, use a mobile app to automate this process. It not only saves you time on the front-end, but lets you gather additional data that you can use later to review for county / state compliance requirements and to review individual student attendance. If you use Salesforce’s Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) and Volunteers for Salesforce (V4S), you already have the basic building blocks in place. It’s simple to configure V4S’s Jobs and Shifts structure to track course and class enrollment and attendance. Most importantly, this automation puts time back in the hands of your staff members or volunteers handling the classes. Time that can be spent interacting with the students face-to-face, giving them more hands-on help.
So automate those mundane tasks quickly, and give the children the attention they need to get the most out of your programs.
Build your systems for scale
With the education and crime problems that youth are facing in our society, nonprofits that work with youth need to step up and have a bigger impact to help with the problems. Research indicates that nonprofit organizations that grow, prepare systematically for growth. This means that you need to put in place plans and priorities. You need to have in place systems and processes that will help you scale to the next level. Fortunately, if you are already using Salesforce NPSP, you already have in place a system that will grow with you and scale infinitely with you. What you need to do is ensure that you put in place the right criteria for your programs and make sure that they are properly tracked in Salesforce.
Track the right data
You need to track the data that will help move your nonprofit’s mission forward. So decide what those outcomes should be. Outcomes could range form improving grade-level reading or math skills for elementary school students to improving standardized test scores for high school students. With Salesforce, you get the breadth and depth of platform to collect any amount of data for any size population very easily. And with the wealth of reports and dashboards, you can analyze the outcomes you want accurately and precisely. You can communicate easily with student stakeholders, giving them updates about individual students. With the ability to prove your impact to funders and grant makers, the more likely you are to receive additional funding.
So train your staff and volunteers to properly use your software for data collection. Show them the big picture and convince them that collecting data is worthwhile. After all, it’s measuring the outcomes of your efforts that matter. And that’s possible only with the right data.