ImpactStory

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Return on Investment in the Social Sector

Funding partners want to invest in organizations and programs most likely to succeed in helping people – not because those programs make money. Because “helping people” isn’t easily monetized (though many try!), a critical part of nonprofit storytelling is helping funders understand why and how their investment results in lasting change. Defining what it means to help people is a value-driven and data-informed conversation. We have created this document to help you talk to funders about return on investment.

Fund for Shared Insight

Fund for Shared Insight pools financial and other resources to provide grants, coaching, inspiration, and community-building through collaborative philanthropy. Our work reflects our commitment to the kind of listening and learning that values lived experience and advances equity. The overarching goal is that foundations and nonprofits be meaningfully connected to the people and communities most harmed by structural racism and other systemic inequities, and more responsive to their insights and feedback. Listen4Good is a capacity-building initiative of the Fund for Shared Insight that helps direct-service organizations listen and respond to the people and communities at the heart of their work. Listen4Good’s suite of specially designed programs offers the expert tools, resources, and coaching organizations need to build high-quality feedback loops that advance equity and lead to positive changes in the ways they make decisions, deliver services and partner with clients.

Delivering on the Promise of Nonprofits

The authors, of the Bridgespan Group, say organizations should start by rigorously addressing a few interdependent questions: Which results will we hold ourselves accountable for? How will we achieve them? What will the results really cost, and how can we fund them? How do we build the organization we need to deliver those results? Together, those questions provide a framework for developing pragmatic, specific plans of action.

Why Customer Feedback Tools Are Vital for Nonprofits

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to joined forces with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and many other grantmakers in a funder collaborative called the Fund for Shared Insight to create tools that will make it simple and affordable to listen to clients. This is especially important in the nonprofit world where recipients of services and products usually can’t vote with their wallets.

Actionable Measurement Guide

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Guide to Actionable Measurement is driven by three basic principles: 1) Measurement should be designed with a purpose in mind — to inform decisions and/or actions; 2) Do not measure everything but strive to measure what matters most; 3) Because the foundation’s work is organized by strategies, the data we gather help us learn and adapt our initiatives and approaches. This guide includes a results matrix, definitions of terms in our results hierarchy, and a set of measurement guidelines intended to shape internal decisions about depth, breadth, and rigor of measurement across grants and within strategies. The guide also highlights the good practices they aspire to follow to be good stewards and not increase the reporting burden faced by our grantees or distract from their work.

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