In a recent blog, we introduced you to the importance of outcome measures in your nonprofit communications, sharing how they can impact your fundraising campaigns, relationships with donors, grantors, regulators, and watchdogs, and their role in offering accountability at your nonprofit.
Why Nonprofits are Increasingly Focused on Outcomes/Outputs
According to the most recent Nonprofit Finance Fund State of the Nonprofit Sector survey, 74 percent of the 5,451 nonprofits surveyed said that they collect outcomes data and 81 percent of these inform their decision-making with these data.
Funders More Concerned than Ever with Outcomes
According to GuideStar, funders are focusing more on outcomes than ever, citing that seventy-one percent of NFF’s survey respondents said that at least some funders require certain outcomes for funding. Unfortunately, 68 percent say funders “rarely” or “never” cover the costs associated with tracking outcomes, leading to an awareness gap that GuideStar says is the result of something called the “Overhead Myth.”
With proper communication, you can help address the overhead myth and discuss the impact you’ve made on the community.
Articulating Goals and Theories
Many nonprofits have the same goals, but also have different ideas on how they intend to accomplish them. This is why many nonprofits are turning to a strategic model that relies on a theory of change—the compass by which you develop a strategy, measure success, and of course, measure outcomes.
Facilitation and Process explains that creating a theory of change relies on two elements: Individual Change Theory and Systems Change Theory:
“Creating a theory of change requires one to be clear about two dimensions of action. The first dimension is what your nonprofit does that is focused on creating change for individuals through direct services. The second dimension is thinking clearly about if (and/or) how your nonprofit works to change systems.”
By providing a different set of measurements, outcome measures allow you to explain to potential donors exactly what you are doing to accomplish a specific goal. In the GuideStar article, authors Antony Bugg-Levine and Jacob Harold looked at the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), whose theory of change was built around the concept that if the employment needs of people with criminal convictions are addressed when they are first released from incarceration (or soon after), they will be less likely to return to jail. From there, CEO articulates a clear model for services, along with various measures of near and longer-term success.
In this, the goal was simple, reduce recidivism and increase employment opportunities, but they had a specific process in mind to accomplish that goal.
Measuring the Success of Tactics
As you have a mission in place and theories of change to accomplish the mission, you have to take action to get there. Outcome measures can help you communicate the effectiveness of certain tactics and activities, measuring progress and helping you find what the most useful methods are in raising money or allocating resources.
Knowing how valuable outcome measures are to the success of a nonprofit, calculating them can be a challenge, and doing so accurately when you’re using spreadsheets or paper can be a nightmare.This is why we would like to invite you to an upcoming event on how to leverage technology for smarter communication.
Learn More: Wipfli Presents Outcome Measures: Metrics That Matter
On November 15, Wipfli will present a free webcast for nonprofits looking to make the most of their communications, accurately sharing the most important details to donors, grantors, regulators, and more. This highly important webcast will share with attendees the basics behind outcome measures, the reasons you need to include them in your communications, and the most logical steps to learn more.
This webcast will feature Shereen Mahoney, Partner at Wipfli, one of the top 20 accounting firms in the US, and Joan Benson, Industry Marketing Executive — Nonprofit, at Sage Intacct, who will discuss how nonprofits are finding transparency, accountability, and measurable results.
In this webinar, you will learn about:
- Why Outcome and Impact Metrics matter for your organization
- How to utilize outcome measures
- A balanced approach
Click here to register or learn more.