Beyond the Numbers: The Future of Measuring Impact



I hear the same theme  over and over when I meet with grantmakers and grantseekers about measuring impact:

Anecdotal data is critical and Real Time data is essential.

Reporting on impact is particularly difficult in our world because progress isn’t always linear and it’s not always quantitative. Success, for many foundations and nonprofits, is often best described with the addition of storytelling or anecdotes.

Somewhere along the line, we became brainwashed into believing that the sophisticated way to track and measure success is always through numbers. “Outcomes and indicators must be measurable,” everyone says. But by limiting yourself to empirical data you run the risk of only telling part of the story. While quantifiable data is important, to tell the whole story, you need to include sentiment and emotion, in addition to facts.

Take the Make-a-Wish’s Batkid campaign, which according to Fast Company, drove 600,000 tweets and 1.7 billion total Twitter impressions between November 5th and November 16th, 2013. While those numbers speak volumes about how the story captivated social media, how do you create a chart that illustrates the way the entire city of San Francisco, and even the country, came together to cheer on Miles, whether watching on TV, on computers, or on the streets. It was magic. The numbers just don’t tell the whole story.

In speaking with our customers and other leaders in the industry, we know that there is a tremendous desire to track impact in real time. But it feels like a Herculean feat because, while the data exists, it’s often buried within Excel documents, PowerPoint presentations, email correspondence, and discussions with grantees.  Bringing this disparate data together in a way that makes it easy to visualize, digest, and share is critical for showing impact both for foundations and their grantees.

When we began to develop Impact Intelligence we worked hand in hand with our community, including foundations such as Packard, to ensure that we were approaching the solution in a way that made sense for the entire sector. The ecosystem is begging for smarter ways to report impact, and also demanding more transparency between grantmakers and grantseekers. We want to help facilitate change.

Today, we are providing a powerful solution for both sides of the grantmaking equation to track and measure success in a way that makes sense for everyone – with features that allow for visualization, storytelling and rich reporting. Down the line, we see a future where impact, outcomes, and indicators can freely flow between nonprofits and foundations using a single platform, Fluxx.

Join us in revolutionizing the way philanthropy works and see how we approach impact reporting. Impact Intelligence is available to try, for free, for 30 days.

As always, I would love your feedback. Let me know what you think. And if you're interested in this post, you may also want to read: The Grantmaker's Guide to Data. Download it here.

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Written by Kristy Gannon