Action Tips: Evaluating Your Impact
Type of guide:
Measuring impact is essential if you want to keep things in order. Plus, you'll impress potential donors when you can describe your goals (and if you've reached them).
- Surveys, sign-in sheets, videos, art pieces, photos, anything you can use to show people what has been done and how effective it was should be stored and kept to remember and analyze later. Include your reflections in a journal to document your growth. A big part of knowing what impact you have had is based on how well you document your impact.
What you need to measure.
- Revenue (money), social return in relation to investment (impact for the cause), and audience (social media, events, newsletter, etc).
Measurable impact is based on measurable goals.
- Just as a ruler can measure different size of paper, most of your goals should be able to be measured in numbers. How many people, partnerships, workshops, and/or projects will you have? What are your websites impressions (how many people view it)? Using measurable goals helps you know exactly when you’ve met or gone above your set goals and helps you analyze your organization’s performance.
Use questions when you can't use numbers.
- Did you accomplish the purposes of the meeting? Did attendees enjoy the event? Was one part of the workshop better than another? Participant’s stories and answers will tell about your impact and accomplishment beyond numbers. Surveys are a great tool to utilize for measurements and to base changes and improvements off of.
Follow up with your team.
- Meet with people who helped put the event, meeting, or program together and talk about what worked and what could be changed. Don’t forget that the people behind the scenes have a special insight into how you and the group managed to get the work done with the resources you had.
Compare and contrast.
- Before your organization started helping, what were the statistics for your issue? If you are just starting out, be sure to work on finding this information now. You may have to do your own research. Use this sort of data to examine how well your organization is doing, if the need for your org still exists, or if your organization is under performing. You can also use this data to reposition how your organization might tackle the cause.
Analyze when you're done.
- Ask yourself if you stayed on budget. Did you finish early or late? What goals did you set and did you meet them? Use the materials you used along the way. Was e-mail communication a trouble? Did you have problems with advertising or donations? Make notes so you can plan ahead next time and create a better strategy.
- A sign-in sheet is worthless if you never count how many people attended and if you don’t check in with those people or see if they are repeat attendees. A video is simply a saved memory if you don’t take the time to watch the footage and evaluate.
Write the numbers and the stories.
- Track event size, date, invite or advertising, and final attendance. Note any best practices. Make it a goal to beat the previous number in accordance to event or meeting size.
- Make a list of comments, emails, or stories you hear or get off of surveys. Note if they are positive or negative. Learn from each account and aim to have more positive comments than negative.
- You can do this same thing with charts on fundraising goals, donations, volunteers, etc. This could be a great visual to show to your board or encourage staff.
- Measuring your impact should happen after each event, biannually and annually. For larger and growing organizations, they might measure results each month. Without measuring your impact, you might be wasting time, energy, and resources- so make sure you have proof of success or data that can help you get there!
- Results and impact data is great to prove your organization’s merit to potential donors, include on applications, and display for the public!
Don't let bad results stop you.
- Sometimes you’ll learn that you didn’t accomplish everything you wanted. It’s a learning process and everything you learn is an accomplishment. Document your challenges, learn from them, and keep them in mind the next time around.
Compare the beginning and the end.
- Don’t forget to compare information from the past with the present. Compiling and measuring your work does matter if you don’t compare it.