Part 2 – Measuring and reporting project impact for nonprofits

By - March 23, 2016

In part one of this series, we discussed the changing environment of donors, the need to have a structure in place to measure your organization’s impact and the ability to report the impact to donors. In part two, I will discuss a couple of things to consider to establish a strong foundation for impact.

A strong connection between your people, processes, technology and strategy must be in place to measure and report the impact being made and to build trust in your mission.

Below are four tips to keep you in sync with the reporting needs of donors:

  • Strategy –Know what you would like to report and how to measure it. This can be more complicated than it sounds. For example, a reporting requirement might be to show how your project helped individuals get out of poverty. How do you measure poverty? Is it obtaining a sufficient income level? In this instance it is important to define what a sufficient income level is, which could vary by region, and distinguish the income received as a result of your project.
    When you are determining what to report, think about what is important and what motivates the donor, ease of obtaining the information and alignment with mission. Develop a reporting strategy that balances standardization and customization. You want to be flexible to gain donors who already have set reporting requirements, but a degree of standardization is needed to run efficiently and to ensure compliance with your organization’s mission.
    Determine frequency of reporting and amount of information to report for each level of donor. Create a frequency plan that doesn’t debilitate your resources but still touches donors on a consistent basis. Find the balance between too much information and not enough. An individual requires less than a large foundation but don’t forget the needs of the small donors – they add up to large dollar amounts.
  • Process – Results of measurements should be readily available to you and should be readily available to the donor. Your process should be quick and efficient. If you are taking too long to analyze data and put it into useful formats for donors, then your process needs to be evaluated.
    Use of different media can help satisfy donors until full reports become available (email communications, website and social media updates, etc.)
  • Technology – Use system selection techniques to find a monitoring platform that is right for you. There are a lot of considerations that need to be made when selecting a platform. Invest in a program that meets the needs of measuring, analyzing and reporting at various staffing levels.
  • People –Define appropriate levels for data collection, entry, analysis and donor reporting. Consider the skills, time commitment and responsibilities of your staff. Field workers are the closest to the work and can collect important data. However, they might be focused on actual project implementation or not have the necessary skills to complete data entry in a complex system. Or someone who completes the measurements and performs analysis might not have the right skills to add donor relationship touches. Properly train staff on Monitoring & Evaluation. Once a strategy and standardized collection method has been determined, train staff on how to perform these tasks.

A successful measurement and reporting of impact benefits your donors and ultimately, your entire organization and those you serve. Investing in measuring and using reporting as a marketing tool creates a cyclical relationship with donors to help gain funds for other projects or initiatives. Donors will once again have trust and can see the impact that their dollars make. To learn more about how RSM can assist you with your other business needs, contact RSM’s management consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.

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