Blogs tagged with Measuring impact

  • Clint White, President, WiT Media
    Posted: June 20, 2014

    This blog post is a continuation of the discussion that took place at the Nonprofit Symposium on Scaling Social Impact June 17 in NYC during the breakout session, "Better Communications through Strategic Use of Data." The author, Clint White, moderated the panel.

    In business, data is money, and money is value.

    We are all, essentially, mission-driven businesses, so what can we learn from the for-profit world about how to make our data work more dynamically to make our brand storytelling better? 

    Just as businesses use data to anticipate and deliver on product and service needs we don’t even know we have yet, the entertainment sector is leading the way with audience content.  Did you know that Netflix shaped House of Cards, its first and immediate hit series, using a mix of customer behavior data and analytics?  They invested $100M and used data from their 44 million viewer preferences to create the show, and then gained 2 million new subscribers on its back, with no focus groups or testing.  Amazing.  

  • Christopher A. Langston, PhD, John A. Hartford Foundation
    Posted: June 20, 2013

    The last several days I've been attending my fourth Social Impact Exchange Conference. While these conferences are primarily about how the social sector can come together to achieve breakthrough success at a scale commensurate to the problems we face -- and have featured stellar organizations such as AARP Experience Corps, The Nurse-Family Partnership, and this year Project ECHO -- I just can't get my mind off the issue of failure.

    In a session Wednesday morning entitled "When is Philanthropy (Ir) Relevant?" Jim Canales, CEO of the California-based James Irvine Foundation, called on philanthropy to overcome what he argues is its history of "underperformance."  Normally, I just shrug off such critiques of philanthropy as either willful ignorance of our real (if fraught) impact from outsiders or, when from insiders, as a trendy posture of self-loathing affected by many philanthropic leaders (who sometimes seem embarrassed by their positions).  However, having listened to Mr. Canales on many occasions and learned a great deal over the years from how the Irvine Foundation does its work,  I have great respect for his thinking.

  • Ashley May The Philanthropy Roundtable
    Posted: June 20, 2013

    Failure is a fact of life. But not in philanthropy, right? The James Irvine Foundation president Jim Canales began the second day of the Social Impact Exchange Conference challenging philanthropists, particularly foundation staffs, to embrace risk and acknowledge failure. From his perspective, philanthropy’s tendency to control, manage, and diminish risk leads to missed opportunities.

    As context, Canales cited a paper published by Irvine in 2007 highlighting a misguided investment and their lessons learned. A reporter from the Chronicle of Philanthropy contacted Canales in 2013 to speak about the story: the writer had not seen a likewise report on a Foundation’s failures in six years. Either philanthropy is hitting the mark every time with every grant, or it is quietly forgetting those initiatives that underperform.

  • Marcia M. Kerz, The OASIS Institute
    Posted: May 3, 2013

    The following post was written to enhance the discussion that took place during the April 30 webinar, which explored the topic of using evaluation to scale for impact. "Evaluation: What an Organization Needs to Scale for Impact" is now available online.  

    With apologies to the Beatles, developing evidence-based programs that can be taken to scale does not happen in one hard day’s night. Rather, it truly is a long and winding road. At least for this organization.

    OASIS, a national nonprofit organization and member of the S&I 100, is dedicated to promoting successful aging for adults age 50 plus. Our three-fold approach provides opportunities for people to participate in lifelong learning, active lifestyles and community involvement. Through its programs, OASIS puts into practice the findings of the landmark MacArthur Foundation study of Aging in America. Researchers Rowe and Kahn found that the key ingredients for a high quality of life are maintaining a low risk for disease, a high level of engagement with the community and high physical and cognitive function; “It is the combination of all three that represents the concept of successful aging fully.”

  • Meghan Duffy, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    Posted: April 10, 2013

    More and more grantmakers are pursuing a variety of innovative approaches to increase the reach and impact of their funding strategies, some that involve organizational growth and others that do not. GEO’s newest publication, Pathways to Grow Impact — based on a collaborative project between GEO, Ashoka, Social Impact Exchange, Taproot Foundation and TCC Group — confirmed that a certain set of smarter grantmaking practices are crucial to supporting nonprofits in their efforts to create more value for their communities.