The Trick to Getting Buy-in from Funders

A Lesson from the ImpactStory Academy

March 28, 2023

Maryfrances Porter


 

Last Tuesday was Office Hours for the Academy – a time when participants can bring in their questions and work through them with me. Last Tuesday, people brought in questions about step one of the ImpactStory Strategy: creating a solid framework and using programs that work.

What I especially loved about this session was that I learned something new! And, honestly, what keeps me going in life is learning something new.

One of the participants (you know who you are WZ!) was initially confused by how the Strategic Impact Map (learn more here) and the Impact Statement (exam

ple here) lined up with each other.

 

Through our discussion, and after using an example from another participant, WZ came up with a really elegant way of overlaying them. It’s better than what I created, so I’m going to change the way I create and teach these (coming soon)!  THANK YOU WZ!

Step One: Map Out Your Strategy
The first step in the ImpactStory Strategy is to create clarity through developing a solid framework and programming that works.

Through the creation of two ImpactStory tools – the Strategic Impact Maps and Impact Statements (see examples below) –  nonprofits are able to create a clear plan for convincingly telling powerful impact stories.


Clarity is Critical for Gaining Buy-In

Nonprofits are practitioners. Nonprofits are not the scientists who invent or test those interventions to see if they work. Nonprofits focus on delivering interventions to people in need, and then measuring immediate-impact, which is what clients leave services with [You: “Check! They got what they came in for!”].

Nonprofits cannot track long-term change because that distracts from fulfilling their mission, and because it takes huge amounts of knowledge and money to do this well. Honestly, even in science it’s really hard to do.

Therefore, in order to claim that clients will likely take what you give them and make long-term change in their lives, you need some proofLucky for us, more and more science gets published every day. Therefore, there’s lots of scientifically proven evidence-based programming, as well as programming that’s reasonably expected be effective based on what we know so far. Most nonprofits I work with are doing something that can be linked back to science.

In two simple and efficient pages Strategic Impact Maps and Impact Statements allow nonprofits to (a) state why your work is important and urgent and (b) the specific immediate impacts people to get from working with you. [Funder: “OK – well, I want that too! Tell me more!”] as well as (c) list what programs you offer and (d) why you can reasonably assume clients working with you are on a path to longer-term change.  [Funder: “Wonderful! It sounds like you have a solid and likely successful plan. I’m in!”]

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