When you ask most people why they chose to work at a nonprofit or start their own, they often say something about their amazing cause– whether they set out to improve the lives of local youth or rescue an endangered frog. No matter the cause, it’s crucial to measure your nonprofit’s impact. Let’s dive into some specifics about why you need to measure your impact and how you can get started.
Measure your impact to bring in more funding
One of the biggest benefits to measuring your impact is that funders love to know what their charitable dollars can do. Many grant providers even require you to tell them exactly how their money will be spent, so measuring your impact can become an absolute necessity—not only to apply for grant funding, but to turn in your mandatory reporting at the end of your grant period.
When you’re thinking about measuring your impact for funders, remember, it’s important to have a quantifiable impact. For example, if you run a food pantry, you could measure the number of people facing food insecurity who were helped by your nonprofit organization, or you could measure the amount of food you give away (in pounds, or even the monetary value).
It’s powerful to tell potential donors that their donation of $50 could help people get clean water, for example. But it’s even more meaningful to tell them how many people that donation can help.
Measure your impact to spark interest
If someone told you they could run “pretty fast,” you probably would say “okay,” and move on with your day. But if someone said “I can run a mile in 3 and a half minutes,” or “I can run faster than Ussain Bolt,” you’d likely perk up. You might ask more questions. “How did you get to be faster than an olympian?” “Why did you dedicate your time and effort to that?”
It’s the same with your nonprofit. In your conversations and in your marketing materials (like social media posts), communicating your impact clearly can help spark interest. And once you have someone’s attention, you can share next steps for how they can get involved.
Measure your impact to unite your team
When you have a team of people working together, conflict is bound to arise and motivations can be muddied. Finding ways to measure your impact can help you set goals with your team of staff, volunteers, and fundraisers. Common goals are a great way to unite a team and resolve conflict. When disagreement begins, your team can begin with one simple question: will this help us reach our goals so we can make the impact we want to have? Making decisions based on your common goals can ensure decisions are being made fairly and in the best interest of your mission.
For example, if you’re looking to start a program that helps your area’s veterans, you could have several ways to measure your impact. Without defining the outcomes you’d like to measure, your team could have differing ideas and priorities of how to best help veterans. But if you set clear metrics like “we’d like to help 20 veterans find new jobs this year,” or, “we’d like to provide 50 service dogs to veterans with PTSD,” your goals are clearly defined. When your goals are defined and measurable, your team can rally around those goals, united in one cause.
Measure your impact to increase your effectiveness
In addition to uniting your team, measuring your impact and setting those goals can increase your effectiveness in reaching your mission. Without measures, it’s difficult to articulate how well you’re serving your chosen area or population. But when you measure your impact, you can track your progress over time.
When you track your progress over time, you can see the impact of different initiatives you may try. You’ll know if a fundraising campaign was successful or not, for example, based on how much the campaign raised for your charitable program. With greater tracking comes a greater understanding of how you can best achieve your mission.
Measuring your impact and communicating it effectively can help you find and motivate more people to get involved, volunteer, and donate to your cause. It can unite your current supporters and team to rally around a goal and it can help you track your progress. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to say you made a difference and know exactly how you made it. Ready to start measuring your impact? Check out our next article with five questions to get you started.
If you’d like assistance establishing measurable metrics and goals for your nonprofit, reach out to us and we’d be happy to match you with one of our nonprofit consultants for advice.