Social Impact Academy: How to Grow Your Impact

Social Impact Academy: How to Grow Your Impact

In the final session of the Social Impact Academy, Segal Family Foundation’s Executive Director, Andy Bryant, shared different approaches that organizations can use to grow their impact—either more broadly to reach a larger population or more deeply by providing additional and improved services. He also offered valuable tips to secure funding for growth from impact-focused funders.

Article: What’s Your Endgame? (Gugelev and Stern)

This article, which was used as the foundation for Andy’s presentation, discusses how to develop scale strategies for small and medium sized organizations. “Endgame,” refers to the specific role that organizations play to confront their communities’ challenges. Unfortunately, the social problems that nonprofits take on are often larger than their organization can entirely address. For that reason, nonprofit leaders should shift their focus from the scale of their organization to the impact that their organization can help achieve. Gugelev and Stern found that nonprofits that define their endgames early tend to make better use of resources during their initial stages of growth. The article outlines six approaches to scale:

  1. Open source your model: This endgame involves refining a new idea or intervention and spreading it for other organizations to draw knowledge.
  2. Replication: A nonprofit with a replication endgame seeks to expand usage of its model by demonstrating the effectiveness of its approach and then finding other organizations that will replicate the model.
  3. Government adoption: In the government adoption endgame, a nonprofit provides a public good/service which can be delivered at a significant scale through funding and implementation by the government.
  4. Commercial adoption: A nonprofit with a commercial adoption endgame aims to alleviate either a market failure or a market inefficiency, such lack of information.
  5. Mission achievement: The mission achievement endgame has a well-defined and achievable goal which helps align short-term activities with long-term strategies.
  6. Sustained service: This model is only used when a nonprofit is needed to address an enduring social problem that the commercial and public sectors do not satisfy.

Pathways to Scale

Andy shared several case studies about Segal Family Foundation grantees that have successfully scaled their work. Some methods are included in the Endgamearticle and others are entirely unique.

Lwala Community Alliance

Direct Service Provision:  Lwala is a healthcare provider that operates in a remote part of western Kenya. Lwala found that it had to take a holistic approach in community involvement to meet its healthcare-oriented mission because there are no other service providers in its communities. In addition to healthcare services, Lwala scaled its program to provide direct services in classrooms and fields.

Spark Microgrants

Community Adoption: Community adoption is a platform for stakeholders to design their own visions of scale. Spark makes small grants to communities to enable project implementation for social good in education, health, and food sustainability. Stakeholders are encouraged to become proactive planners, implementers, and advocates for their development through microgrants.

Last Mile Health

Government Adoption: Last Mile Health is committed to saving lives in rural and remote villages in Africa. During the 2014 ebola outbreak, the Liberian government recognized the proficiency of Last Mile Health’s program. Last Mile Health is now helping overhaul the failing national health system in Liberia. It will implement a nationwide community health worker program by building, refining, and subsequently transferring the system to the government.

Educate!

Open Source: Educate! provides social entrepreneurship curricula to provide business skills to young people in Uganda. This creates new opportunities for Ugandans to start their own businesses and community development initiatives. By open sourcing their material, Educate!’s national entrepreneurship curriculum is used throughout all of Uganda and its model has been adopted in nearly every secondary school. Other NGOs have also adopted portions of Educates!’s model.

One Acre Fund

Sustained Service: One Acre Fund works with small farmers across Africa and provides microloans, farming inputs, and market access. It has grown from a budget of 4.8 million to over 55 million. This is possible because $35-40 million of its budget come from repayments on loans. This means that One Acre’s model is financially sustainable and able to expand. This has a great value proposition for donors because when they invest in one acre, the repayment on that loan pays for another person’s acre.

What does it take to scale?

  • Vision: You must have a mission, diligence, and passion to achieve it.
  • Desire: You must learn how to best achieve your mission with the help of peers and tools.
  • Commitment to measurement: You and your team should be driven by an internal desire to learn, improve, and demonstrate impact.
  • Clear path: Figure out which pathway to scale works best for you; identify systems and people get on the correct path.
  • Institutional funders: You will probably need funders like Segal Family, and they require reporting, accountability, and measurable results.

Fundraising Tips for gaining institutional funders

Do

  • Be clear in your intentions: Have transparency in your motives. When you engage donors let them know upfront if you are going to make an ask.
  • Have a few KPIs that are well-measured: Having hundreds of performance indicators is confusing and suggests that you are measuring too many things with sub-standard procedures. Provide examples of a few well-measured, well-defined indicators that really show your impact.
  • Have up-to-date financials: Know your most recent numbers, and know them well. Have a hard copy of financials with you and provide projections for the future.
  • Ask your current donors for referrals: Donors value the opinion of other donors more than that of potential grant seekers. Get referrals from your current donors so that you can present them in meetings with future donors.
  • Treat possible donors as human beings: Be empathetic to donors’ needs and objectives. They, too, are human and subject to “off” days.

Don’t

  • Get frustrated: This is a marathon not a sprint. Donor relationships might take years to build but continue to have patience and keep trying.
  • Chase money: You have a mission and vision, do not deviate from them for money.
  • Lose sight of your vision: You have something incredible to offer, remain wedded to your organization’s vision! Do not bend to whims of your funders.
  • Make excuses: Be patient and diligent while connecting with institutional funders.

Service providers

  • Catchafire: Connects NGOs to pro bono service providers.
  • Vera Solutions: Helps people design Salesforce-backed data systems.
  • Lex Mundi: Does pro bono legal work on behalf of NGOs.
  • Foundation Center: Has a great database of funders that Segal provides to its partners free of charge.
  • Tact: A Salesforce customization service.

Access the database of service providers from Segal Family Foundation: http://bit.ly/1QUapdB.

This post was written by Kennan Howlett, Program Team Intern.

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