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Avoiding Mission Drift: 4 Steps to Putting an Impact Measurement Strategy in Place

By August 1, 2018

Putting an Impact Measurement Strategy in Place-01

By Heather Black, Managing Director of Economic Change. 

Recently, I was a guest panellist on one of the webinars in’s new Behind the Impact series where we discussed how to put an impact measurement strategy in place for a nonprofit or charity. In this blog, I’d like to share some of the key insights and learnings from the webinar.  

The challenge of mission drift is a common one for all nonprofits, big and small. As various data and evidence get collected for different projects, funders and stakeholders across different systems and spreadsheets – it becomes hard to aggregate data for analysis and to simply communicate the impact of your mission to stakeholders inside and outside of your organisation.   

So, what do you do when your impact measurement is adrift, and you can’t communicate the success of your programs?

mission drift

During our webinar, guest speakers, Chris McAleese from YMCA Humber, Eric Barela from, and I, shared our top tips on how to fine-tune the impact measurement process make it more manageable for nonprofits and charities.

1. Define your impact

Nonprofits who want to increase their mission’s reach need to define what success looks like to them so that they can measure it more effectively.

Eric and Chris reflected on this problem within their own organisations. They both worked with their teams to decide on core impact indicators that represent the mission alongside different services. YMCA has developed a core set of strength indicators that can be used for all service users across their array of services, whilst has developed a series of logic models to present the impact of different services.

My thoughts are that the creation of an organisational Theory of Change is similar to that of a tree. Organisations should start by identifying a set of core impact indicators that represent the core mission of the organisation – this represents the trunk of a tree. All of the different projects and services represent branches of the tree, which collect and contribute data back into this central trunk of data intelligence. The flow of data from different areas should align with a centralised indicator as well as specific data sets. This is reflective of how you would want to architect your system of record – here we’re speaking about Salesforce. This structure will enable you to report in Salesforce at an overall impact level or filter down to a specific project or contract to report to respective funders.

2. Get stakeholders involved from the start

“Generate emotional engagement by involving team members in discussions about evidence of impact, the mission and help them to understand how to build a Theory of Change. It helps to focus the team,” says Eric.

Engaging stakeholders from the top down to the bottom up is vitally important for any CRM project – lack of stakeholder involvement is often a key reason for the failure of new systems. There are three levels of stakeholder engagement:

Executive sponsorship provides the vital leadership and resources. Senior leadership should be actively involved in the process and communicate the purpose, reason and vision for the new approach.

Business analysis provides the opportunity for stakeholders to discuss, propose and collaborate on the design of the system. Whether their input is via a survey, interviews, focus groups or workshops, it should give stakeholders the opportunity to find out what’s possible, view the potential system or test a prototype, to inform and shape their requirements.

Chris explained – “The design process has helped the staff to engage and understand the benefits of a new approach and system – whether it is freeing up their capacity to spend more time on the front line, coordinating service user assessments or introducing new ways of collecting data instead of using paper.”

Your change management strategy should focus on planning a careful balance of stakeholder involvement. Communication and support from every department is essential to help realise the successful deployment of any new process and system.

3. Create the vision and showcase what’s possible

Chris from YMCA made a good point about how a lot of employees might not be familiar with CRM or monitoring systems so often it’s good to showcase what’s possible to generate enthusiasm about putting new processes in place.

Behind the Impact

Pictured: Einstein Analytics in action on Nonprofit Cloud

Doing this in the early design stages and getting employees involved during the brainstorming sessions to allow you to iron out the process and identify where there may be gaps earlier on in the process rather than further down the line where it could cause costly delays.

Eric added to this by saying – “share early and share often” as this allows employees to make the data their own. Every time you share a report or dashboard, you’re probably going to get more questions than answers and that’s a good thing. Impact measurement isn’t just for the measurement and evaluation team, it benefits the whole organisation.

4. Identify and recruit Salesforce champions

It’s important to have internal salesforce champions who can own the system, support users and embed the adoption of a system long term within an organisation. Ongoing conversations about the system will need to be coordinated, as the system will continue to evolve.

Empowering internal users to become Salesforce administrators is encouraged for any organisation. The Power of Us Hub and Trailhead are both free resources and a great places to start for employees who want to learn more about how to use Salesforce and ask questions to other users/admins in the nonprofit community.

This internal role also aligns with the importance of maintaining data security. Salesforce offers a range of options to help manage data access, security and encryption and it is important that there is someone who can maintain, manage and review compliance of the Salesforce system to adhere with the principles of GDPR and Cyber Security.

At YMCA, allocated project team members have been provided with Salesforce admin training by Economic Change to empower them to update and evolve their system architecture to meet the needs of the team now and in the future, as new requirements are identified and projects started.

In conclusion, it’s about empowering teams within nonprofits to understand, define and monitor their impact as an organisation. The process requires investment but overall it can help you better track and communicate impact more coherently and efficiently to all your constituents.

Interested in learning more about putting an impact measurement strategy in place? 

watch webinar

Guest Author: Heather Black is the founder of Economic Change and Salesforce Supermums. She is an expert in business analysis, change management, Salesforce CRM and impact measurement and has worked with and supported many nonprofit organisations to change the way they work, for the better.