Best practices for social change and environmental action

Archive for the ‘Nonprofit funding’ Category

It’s about impact…not output!

In Best practice, Communication, Fund raising, Grant writing, Nonprofit funding, Nonprofit management, Online, Resources, Tools on June 14, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Talking about impact – real impact – seldom comes easy for an issues-oriented organization.

It’s one thing to describe programs, services, and activities that depict output.  It’s quite another to frame results in a way that shows how it all solves problems out there in the real world. Yet, that is what funders and supporters want to know. Increasingly, they need to know it before making a commitment.  The problem is that many nonprofits and NGOs don’t even understand it themselves.

This is a common enough situation that several organizations serving the nonprofit sector have done something about it.  The result of their collaboration recently went online with Charting Impact–  a new web-based tool that helps nonprofits, NGOs, and social enterprises think strategically about what they are trying to achieve and how they go about it.

Developed with input from nearly 200 organizations, Charting Impact applies a proven framework predicated on five deceptively simple questions.

  1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?
  2. What are your strategies for making this happen?
  3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?
  4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?
  5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?
Some organizations might not be able to answer those questions quickly, but if they take the time – and effort – to work through the framework they will be rewarded with a crisp, detailed report that funders will appreciate.   Well worth the trouble…and well done by the creators – BBB Wise Giving AllianceGuideStar USA and Independent Sector.
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The colors of money in social enterprise

In Finance, Fund raising, Grant writing, Money management, Nonprofit funding, Nonprofit management on April 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm

What should take priority in a social enterprise model: finances or impact? If some themes of the recent Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship are any indication, there’s probably no single “right” answer.

Idealists will lean naturally toward outcomes. Pragmatists will likely note that you put those outcomes at risk without a solid financial foundation. The rest of us naturally ask why we have to choose; money and impact are equally important.

There’s a lively follow-up discussion of the topic underway right now over at the Social Edge global online community sponsored by the forum’s organizer, The Skoll Foundation.

A consensus seems to be taking shape about the gap between the different lines of thinking. Smart social investors see the impressive results achieved by social entrepreneurs working worldwide and in multiple key sectors. Yet, they cannot really figure how to get a “market rate return” from investing in those enterprises while enabling the organizations to achieve the optimal social impacts.

Perhaps the key question is how foundations, funds and other “impact investors” can help social enterprises build financially stable and sustainable business models that actually strengthen their missions. How can they close the gap between the need for financial return and the mandate for maximum impact?

Root Capital founder Willy Foote offered a clearheaded approach in his Skoll Forum presentation about the “colors of money” … which he succinctly summarizes here:

Colors of money. We’re sure to be hearing that a lot as the social enterprise sector gets ever more dynamic.

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