I’ve decided to take a different approach to some of the Frankly Speaking Newsletters this year, which leads to a new flavor of blog posts as well.

I’ve been very fortunate to have met, and often worked with, some truly amazing people that have a lot to bring to the table in this work we do – building sustainable mission-driven nonprofits that create better futures for our communities.

To me, this month’s issue speaks to clarity of purpose and impact measurement, and Lisa describes a tool that is a great stepping stone on that journey.

Lisa Lowthers is the Learning Manager with Common Good Solutions out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Lisa was kind enough to share both her knowledge and the tool she refers to, for you to use.

Read what Lisa wrote for us below and feel free to reach out to Lisa or me with any questions or comments.

“Nonprofits often struggle with how to track their impact, often deferring to the measures that funders ask them to track. Impact measurement is important for funders. It is far more important to prove and improve the work of your organization. My experience is that building a logic model is a good place to start. It helps you to define the impact you want to make and define how to track and measure your success.

To do this we use a tool called the Impact Blueprint which we have developed from the good work of Jason Paul. In his book, The End of Fundraising, Paul uses a formula for creating change. We have translated that formula into a concise worksheet that will help you organize your thoughts and actions.

We suggest an organization complete four types of Impact Blueprints – social, customer, operational and financial – to look at all the ways in which they can make and measure impact. Today, I will focus on the Social Impact Blueprint.

Here are the four basic steps. Note the first two are community facing and the last two face into the organization:

  1. Start by describing the impact you want to have in the community, the end result that your organization is working towards.
  2. Break down your intended impact into 3-4 main outcomes. The main outcomes are the changes that need to happen in the community and are most important to achieving your impact. You can focus on many things so narrowing it down to 3-4 that will result in more impact is important.
  3. Define the performance measures (or indicators) that will help you quantify and track progress towards the outcomes. Performance measures are the results you will work towards  – your measures of success. You may need to have some measures here that are required by funders, but be sure to add measures that are important just to you. Limit yourself to 3-4 measures for each outcome, otherwise, you’ll have too many. And, think about how you will track them as you are developing them, so they can be incorporated with as little time and effort as possible. Measurements that are built into normal activities are best.
  4. List the strategies you will use. These are the actions necessary to achieve your intended results. Every program you offer should clearly map to a priority outcome and have performance measures. If not, then you likely should not be doing it.

Consider preparing the Impact Blueprint collaboratively, by involving the people you hope will benefit from your work, the team members who will serve them, and the people or groups you are accountable to. These different perspectives can help ensure that everyone is clear on what you want to change, how you will bring about change, and how you will measure it.

For a free version of the Social Impact Blueprint, check out Planning Your Social Impact.”

So, there you have it. I encourage you to give Lisa’s ideas a try and let us know how they work for you.

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