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Top 5 Takeaways from the First Expedition Impact Tour Stop

By Norah Stevens-Kittner April 12, 2018

1 Tour Stop Down, Many More to Go

With donors demanding more data showing the impact of programs, meaningful impact measurement and reporting is becoming a requirement to earn funding and resources. And that starts with delivering effective, impactful programs. While it may not always feel like it in our divided world, we’re on this journey to becoming impact-first together.

On April 3, nonprofits in Washington, D.C. gathered for the first of several Expedition Impact events. It was a half day where nonprofits got the chance to learn from peers, thought leaders and even attend a workshop where we built an impact tracking app live and in person.

Here are the top 5 takeaways from our first Expedition Impact tour stop:

1. The next frontier of impact measurement is here

Gone are the days when data is being captured to simply create a report for a funder or a donor. Leading nonprofits in impact measurement are giving their programs departments a starring role in how they use data to solve problems. As Dr. Shena Ashley explained in her remarks, the only possible consequence of this shift is greater impact. Program managers now have actually more control than ever to be driving the impact agenda because the tools are available for them to manage this work directly themselves. When the people who are designing programs with the beneficiary in mind get access to meaningful data, data thinking and program design are linked which has immense implications on a nonprofit’s impact.

Slide from Dr. Shena Ashley, The Urban Institute on nonprofit impact measurement
Source: Dr. Shena Ashley, The Urban Institute

2. The goal of impact measurement is not to prove it, but to improve it.

Andrew Means, head of beyond.uptake, Co-Founder at The Impact Lab, and founder of Data Analysts for Social Good, presented this idea of the counterfactual. What would have happened to that beneficiary anyway without a program’s intervention? Would that student have graduated from high school without your program? No longer can we simply count how many people crossed the finish line, but instead how far across the finish line did we get them. If a nonprofit measures its impact simply by the number of students who graduated high school, is that really telling you what the impact of your program was? Instead, you want to look at who were the students that were at greatest risk of not graduating, but graduated because of your nonprofits intervention. How can you gain insights into your programs to determine how well your programs are performing but how can they be even better.

stepping up to the finish line - improving nonprofit impact measurement

3. Use Technology To Get Insights, not just reports

Technology can be used for so much more than fundraising. It can be used for program development as well as building your impact strategy. Or simply to be more effective and efficient in actually delivering your programs. The team of solution engineers built a program application live, in person. With the input from the audience, the team showed us the impact of moving one piece of a program’s operation from a paper-based process to a technology solution. And it was built in as fast as 20 minutes.

Screenshot of Salesforce for nonprofits

4. Efficiencies in delivery can lead to greater impact…AND BETTER quality

At Expedition Impact in Washington, D.C., we were joined by three nonprofit leaders in impact measurement — The Anti-Defamation League, Pencils of Promise, and the United Services Organization (USO). All three organizations manage their programs on Salesforce technology and shared not only how they did it but what the impact was of having a technology platform for their programs was.

The USO is not only capturing data but actually analyzing it (what a novel concept!). By creating a custom application to manage their check-in process for veterans and active military members and their families at their USO sites, they have saved 1,300 hours of staff time. They also are able to get — and act on — feedback from their clients immediately, when previously the feedback was captured by a 50 question survey and took 8 months to analyze. They could even meet client needs before they left the USO center. Explore more details on how the USO uses Salesforce.

For the Anti-Defamation League, it’s about digitizing the process by which the public can notify them of anti-Semitic incidents and they can respond effectively and efficiently. They are also able to report on the number and type of incident nationally and by state. (Watch the video of ADL at Dreamforce.)

For Pencils of Promise, it’s about having their fundraising, programs, and marketing data connected through technology to increase their impact. Learn more about their story.

how data intersects with donors, branding, and programs through nonprofit marketing, impact measurement and fundraising or development.
Source: Pencils of Promise

5. The cherry blossoms in DC are truly a sight not to be missed

Washington, D.C. in springtime is lovely – what more can we say? hosted the Expedition Impact conference in Washington, D.C. More cities are coming soon!Source: Shelly Erceg, Director of Nonprofit Product Management,

The social sector is moving toward new tools and models that allow for faster, smarter impact delivery and measurement. Are you an early adopter? Sign up to give us product feedback and you can:

  • Make sure your organization’s challenges, needs and experiences are heard: chat with our Director of Nonprofit Product Management about your technology experience
  • Share how you currently deliver and report on programs
  • Feel good about having your feedback on analytics for social impact inform the Salesforce product roadmap
  • Find out about the next Expedition Impact event in your neighborhood – where you can meet like-minded leaders and exchange ideas, get inspired, motivated, and be part of the community of leaders in impact measurement

If you’re more of a reader than a chatter, check out this e-book on challenges and solutions for program management.

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