Social Impact Academy Posts

Power Up your Programs with the Social Impact Academy

Power Up your Programs with the Social Impact Academy

Do your organization’s programs create the meaningful change that you intended? What do your constituents have to say about your projects? Are you comfortable talking about your organization’s social impact? And how do you get the support and resources you need to reach even more communities?

That’s where the Social Impact Academy comes in! Join us for a two-month online course led by social impact experts and nonprofit professionals from across the globe. The Academy will help you explore different theories of impact measurement and learn about practical tools and resources to design programs for social change, measure impact, engage your community, and tell your organization’s impact story! See below for a complete agenda.

Apply online by Monday, August 8 for one of only 45 available spaces – and don’t hesitate to email us at projecthelp@globalgiving.org with questions.

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.

Social Impact Academy: How to Tell Your Impact Story

Social Impact Academy: How to Tell Your Impact Story

Alison Carlman, Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications at GlobalGiving, joined us for the eighth session of the Social Impact Academy to talk about the power of social impact stories.  The stories you tell don’t only describe the impact you are having (helping you galvanize support), but meaningful narratives can also create impact themselves. See below for a summary of her session about the communicator’s “triple bottom line.”

Session Recording: http://www.meetingburner.com/b/globalgiving/view_recording?c=DGQ9HT&h=f

Session Summary:

What needs to change in the way we’re telling stories?

Nonprofit communicators often use visuals and stories that are sad or upsetting–those that elicit pity– because they seem to generate more money. Pity-based appeals may help nonprofits raise money in the short-term, but recent research demonstrates that the technique is not sustainable. Constant exposure to depressing images decrease donors’ sense of hope and leads to what some call “compassion fatigue.” Stories that separate “us” (donors) from “them” (people portrayed in their suffering) also perpetuate stereotypes about the people we intend to help.

In the private sector, there’s much talk about the triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Profit. Instead of just focusing on profit, businesses need to consider their impact on the people affected by their work, and their impact on the environment. Alison suggests that nonprofit communicators should also consider a triple bottom line when communicating about impact: Cause, Community, Cash.

  • Cause: the people at the heart of our mission; those we intend to help
  • Community: the nonprofit ecosystem (donors, peers, and long-term public opinion about our cause)
  • Cash: our fundraising goals

So how do we tell stories that promote the triple bottom line? We Listen, Act, Learn, Repeat, to find out what works to promote our cause, our community, and to drive cash (or funding).

LISTEN

Listen to researchers, peers and stakeholders. Have: “No data without stories and no stories without data” (Jennifer Lentfer). Stories provide context for your data and evoke emotion; this is key to driving both connection and action.

How do we tell a good story that “works” for fundraising?

Research: The Stories Worth Telling Report (Julie Dixon) This guide explains how to tell a good story with a focus on five main points.

  1. An Effective Character: Have a single, compelling character that is relatable through memories and shared experiences.
  2. Trajectory: There should be some action told as an experience, a journey, a transformation, or a discovery.
  3. Authenticity: Show a character’s transformation rather than tell about it. Do this by incorporating details and by using the character’s own voice.
  4. Action-oriented Emotions: Convey emotions to motivate donors to act.
  5. A Hook: Capture the audience’s attention immediately to keep them engaged.

How does considering voice “work” to promote our cause?

Research: The Development Element (Jennifer Lentfer) This reference shares insights for creating impactful stories with the correct use of voice.

  1. Show people’s sense of agency: Use stories to root out stereotypes, generalizations, and victimization of those you work with.
  2. Bridge the “us vs. them” divide: Don’t focus on the “otherness” of those in need by portraying how sad their situation is. Create an opportunity for people to connect on a human level without emphasis on pity, guilt, or shame.
  3. Convey the complexity of social change: Invite people to think deeper about the root cause of problems. Emphasis on giving donations as a solution to complex problems gives a false representation of the challenges your communities face.
  4. Portray people with dignity and respect: Those we help should not be portrayed as helpless.
  5. Let people speak for themselves: Do not only hear about the people in need, hear from them.

How do we understand our audience, and what works to build long-term community around our goals?

Research: The Narrative Project (Gates Foundation) This was an effort by major nonprofits to identify narratives that mobilize people to support global development. This study explores the long-term effects of nonprofit communications. It’s an alternative to pity-based appeals. This study was developed by conducting an exhaustive study of nonprofit communications,  conducting focus groups, and online interviews in the US, UK, France and Germany to determine what story lines actually motivate people to become supporters of global development. Main findings:

  • Core Themes in a narrative should be:
    • Independence. The most compelling stories explore how you help people become more self-sufficient and independent.
    • Shared values. Find ways to relate the human experience across cultures by describing shared hopes and values. This creates empathy and understanding.
    • Partnership. Show that the people you help are contributing to your work in a significant way. It is not an us to them operation but a partnership.
  • Supporting theme: Progress. Problems should be presented as solvable tasks.

ACT

Test new ideas by gathering data. Use the qualitative and quantitative tools provided in past Academy sessions to make action plans.

How do we test our communications?

  • Use quantitative data to find out what ‘works’ for fundraising.
    • Perform experiments such as A/B Testing to find out what works.
      • Examples: Through experimentation, GlobalGiving has found these methods “work” to drive fundraising.
        • Use photos of one person (or animal) making eye contact, looking hopeful.
        • Use a clear call-to-action, tell supporters to do what you want them to do.
        • Personalize whatever possible, i.e. add the recipient’s name in the opening line.
        • Use a staff person’s name in the send field, recipients tend to open more mail from people rather than organizations.
  • Use qualitative data to find out what ‘works’ for promoting your cause and building community.
    • Get feedback from stakeholders:
      • When you write a story, follow up with a few supporters to see how it made them feel. Ask for adjectives they would use to describe your report. Look for words such as “hopeful, ““inspiring,” or “proud.”
      • Involve the person your story is about. Ask how they feel about how you have portrayed them. Use their own words.

LEARN

After analyzing data, draw some conclusions about what works for promoting progress to EACH of the three bottom lines:

  • Learn from your experiments to find out what works; don’t just stick to what raises more money.
  • Consider your long-term goals
  • Be willing to change and grow based on what you learn
  • Don’t be afraid to fail!

REPEAT

Growth isn’t a linear path, it is cyclical. Be willing to try things multiple times as you continue to listen, act, and learn.

Q&A

Social Impact Academy: Learning from Failure

Social Impact Academy: Learning from Failure

Let’s be honest, we all fail. But it’s how we acknowledge and learn from failure that sets us apart. This week in the Social Impact Academy, we were joined by Kennedy Leavens, the Executive Director of Awamaki, and Marilyn Darling, a Partner at Fourth Quadrant Partners to discuss recognizing and responding to failure.

Session Recording: http://www.meetingburner.com/b/globalgiving/view_recording?c=ZSI434&h=f

Session Summary:

Kennedy Leavens, Executive Director, Awamaki

Awamaki provides training and market access to rural female artisans in Peru. Awamaki won GlobalGiving’s 2014 Fail Forward Contest, you can read its winning submission here.

Identifying Failure

  • Ask questions: Informal conversations among staff stimulate open, honest feedback without the pressure of formal meetings.
  • Strategic reviews: These involve formal staff meetings which discuss your organization’s past and future goals.
  • Match methods to your community: Women in Awamaki’s communities did not provide constructive criticism in formal settings. Awamaki worked within the culture of its rural communities and found that rumors and gossip are effective feedback methods (with proper discernment between truth and false gossip).
  • Mission-financial Axis Map: Awamaki uses this visual tool to have strategic discussions about how programs both contribute to the organization’s financial sustainability and relate to their mission.

Respond, Communicate, Learn

  • Ex. English Classes: Awamaki had an English teaching program which it relied on financially. However, students in Awamaki’s communities didn’t come to class even after repeatedly varying the target population.
    • Response: An internal analysis found negative financial consequences of ending the program, but the dissatisfaction of volunteer teachers with empty classrooms carried unquantifiable repercussions. English classes were cancelled and Awamaki decided to find the finances elsewhere.
    • Communication: Awamaki was open when communicating with the community and volunteers about the situation. Volunteers were grateful because they did not want to be part of an ineffective program.
    • Learned: Even if a program is generating income, if it does not achieve the mission it should be cut. There is always instant improvement despite financial constraints.
  • Ex. Puente Inca knitters: Knitters received funding from the UN for capacity building. The women viewed the program as charity, not a business opportunity, and as a result, the quality of their work suffered and the co-op became dysfunctional.
    • Response: Awamaki fired half of the knitters, created and upheld quality standards, introduced financial penalties, and delegated responsibilities to workers.
    • Communication: All changes in expectation were clearly communicated to the women. This helped them understand their accountability to the program.
    • Learned: Tough decisions must be made. The women expected Awamaki to hold their hands because that’s what it was doing. The women now act as reliable, independent business owners.
  • Ex. Weaving Center: The man who donated land for the center intimidated the weavers, they believed that he was in charge of the center with Awamaki’s consent. This came as a surprise to Awamaki, which considers women’s empowerment to be at the center of all of the organization’s programs. Read the complete story here.
    • Response: Awamaki learned that the women did not understand their rights. Many are illiterate and could not read the weavers’ association’s by-laws to understand that this man was not in charge. Awamaki brought in a Quechua-speaking lawyer to meet with them and explain their options. Eventually, the women purchased land and built a new center of their own.
    • Communication: As Awamaki started processing this failure, it shared its problems to donors. Because donors knew about the situation before it was resolved, they responded positively when asked for donations to create a new center.
    • Learned: All new centers are built and owned by the women. Women are now exemplary leaders within the centers.

Create a culture that is healthy and risk-taking

  • Ask staff and beneficiaries how you can improve your program (use a feedback loop).
  • Don’t be afraid to confront failure head on; it will lead to deeper and unexpected impact, stronger donor and beneficiary relationships, and more staff buy-in.
  • Communicate honestly. Give your happy stories to donors but also let them know your struggles. This will help you gain their trust and make them feel like part of your team.

Marilyn Darling, Partner, Fourth Quadrant Partners, LLC

Fourth Quadrant Partners helps its partners achieve their desired outcomes with tools to produce better results in the future. It demonstrates how to acknowledge and learn from failure.

When is a lesson truly learned?

  1. When a group changes its choices and actions based on the lesson;
  2. When the change produces better results.

Keep going through learning cycles

  • Hypothesis: Use if/then statements, “IF we do this, THEN that will happen.”
  • Method: What do you need to do to reach your goal?
  • Results: How are your programs evolving and affecting your results?
  • Repeat! Refine your hypotheses, methods, and results.

Before and After Action Reviews

  • Ask your team a series of questions before and after an action or program to see if you accomplished what you set out to achieve.
  • This process can help you identify possible challenges or pinpoint program failures.
  • It is a visual organizer which shows the iterative process of getting better results.
  • Use for anything considered an important piece of work.
  • Keep it simple.

Q&A

Social Impact Academy: Building Impact Measurement into Programs

Social Impact Academy: Building Impact Measurement into Programs

This week of the Social Impact Academy, we were joined by three panelists that shared insights into their organizations’ impact assessment methods. These organizations have built distinct impact measurement approaches into their programs in ways that meet the specific needs of the communities they serve.

Session Recording: http://www.meetingburner.com/b/globalgiving/view_recording?c=9EJUJV&h=f

Session Summary:

Joining us on the panel were:

Sandeep Ahuja, Founder and CEO, Operation ASHA

Operation ASHA provides last-mile medical services in India and Cambodia by employing local community members to improve the health of disadvantaged patients. One of its strengths is using technology to reduce costs.

Emma Pfister, Global Communications and Marketing Manager, Water for People

Water for People works in Central America, South America, Africa, and India to provide safe and permanent water sources for communities. Their impact is measured over time by assessing the increase in access to water and the likelihood that access is sustainable.

Elizabeth Ross, Director, Kasiisi Project

Kasiisi Project operates in Kibale National Park, Uganda. It is a conservation and education program with 14 rural primary schools. Its fundraising partners are in the UK and US and it functions on a small budget.

What methods do you use to assess your impact? What systems do you use to streamline the measurement process?

Emma:

  • Use technology to streamline the process.

    • Akvo FLOW: We want measurement and analysis to be quick! Akvo FLOW is an app for handheld devices that are used in the field and collects information from surveys and automatically computes analytics.
    • Everyone Forever Tracker: We want a way to share it! The EF Tracker transforms our analyzed data and shows it in a consumer friendly way. The analytics become visually appealing and easy for any type of donor to understand.
    • Reflection Sessions: All of our offices do annual in-country conferences to reflect on the past year. We use this as a building platform to learn and move forward.

Sandeep:

  • What gets measured gets done.Measurement of outcomes is an integral part of our methodology. Our management information systems include continuous monitoring and rigorous reporting.
  • Technology: Operation ASHA uses technology to improve performance, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Use of technology reduces the cost of paper, labor, and statistical analysis.

Elizabeth:

  • Use available data. Our major goal is to improve academic performance. We measure academic performance using government administered primary leaving exams. We collect this data every year for our schools and evaluate it through comparison to other schools.
  • Use pre and post questionnaires. For our outside-of-school programs we use questionnaires with pre and post intervention. Changes in knowledge and attitude are noted through simple methods such as counting a show of hands after a question.
  • Use one evaluation for multiple grants to avoid survey fatigue because every grant we receive requires evaluations. We also keep the same questions for multiple years so that we can keep records for long-term comparison results.

What metrics and indicators do you measure? How did you decide to use these indicators?

Sandeep:

  • Incorporate measurement from the start. Our program and measurement have never been considered two separate activities. We go to the beneficiaries, ask what they want, and develop a set of measureable indicators based on their answers.
  • Data analysis. Our medical electronic recording system allows us to see analytics from year to year to measure if we are making a difference. We track number of TB symptomatics found, the number of people served, and treatment success.

Emma:

  • Match your indicators to your organization’s goals. Our indicators address issues concerning clean water for everyone forever within a community. Example metrics include water service level, frequency of pipe damages, and ability of community committees to pay for repairs on the water systems.

Elizabeth:

  • Match your evaluations to the community you serve. For example, we use the children’s drawings as evaluations. We want to make activities fun so children stay engaged in the evaluation process, especially since they are run outside of school.
  • Note what kind of analysis you want to perform in the future. We tend to use true/false questions with various programs because we want numbers for statistical assessment.

What staff and financial resources are necessary to measure impact?

Sandeep:

  • Improving our measurement is seen as investment. Measurement can’t be separated from performance, it is part of our process. We do not spend more than 10% of our operating budget on measurement.
  • Technology. We realized that we could not run our program efficiently and at a low cost unless we used technology. We put together a software requirement specification proposal and sent it to Microsoft Research. Microsoft provided us with a free medical electronic recording system.

Emma:

  • Get monitoring embedded in local institutions. Your organization, the community, and the local government should all be part of the reporting process. This allows you to see where gaps occur in your effectiveness.
  • Track how much you and your partners spend on monitoring so that you can accurately forecast your costs.

Elizabeth:

  • Use employees. We only use our permanent staff for measuring impact. We design our evaluations with staff. This ensures that teachers can appropriately explain the evaluation so that the children understand them. You must have experienced people to understand children’s answers as well. We have low costs by way of materials, but about 10-15% of our budget is spent on monitoring and evaluation.

How do you involve the community you serve in the process of measuring your impact?

Sandeep:

  • Involving the community ensures quality results. We measure parameters that are the most important to our patients and communities and those who deliver the outreach program are from within the community. Our program is flexible to move according to the needs of patients, technology, and realities on the ground.
  • External monitoring. Auditors visit health centers at random and ask patients of those centers questions about the quality of their care. This ensures that the community is a part of our measurement process.

Emma:

  • Reflection sessions. After data is analyzed from the annual Akvo FLOW surveys, partners, governments, NGOs, and the community come together to reflect on the data. We discuss the problems and plan for the future together.

Elizabeth:

  • We involve the community from the start. We ask what parents want their children to know and what area authorities think kids should learn about. The community helps to write evaluation sheets.
  • Share the results. We present our findings to teachers, with parents, at churches, etc.