- Develop a sustainable framework.
- Maintain the human element.
- Take advantage of partnerships.
1. Develop a sustainable framework.To generate useful reports about your social impact, you have to first gather the data that your reports will be based on. For that, you need a sustainable data collection and analysis method. Writing your process down and ensuring that everyone on your team knows which elements they’re responsible for will set you up for success in the short and long terms. Every nonprofit’s mission and operations are different, so each nonprofit’s system will look a little bit different. But regardless of your exact situation, you’ll need to determine what you’re looking for, how you’re going to gather the data, and how you’re going to turn that raw data into useful reports. Let’s dive into each of these elements individually.
What data will you gather?At the heart of this process, you want to measure something immeasurable: the impact of your programs on the wellbeing of the community. How can you put a number on that? You have to get specific with your individual campaign goals, breaking it down into measurable cause and effect. Let’s take the basic goal of encouraging donations for a specific campaign, a situation most nonprofits find themselves in. The campaign will positively impact the community, so by examining trends in donations benefiting that campaign, we can estimate the impact on the community. Start small. Think about the actions that you take every day to encourage donations, then the smallest unit of measure and any relevant percentages:
- Emails, direct mailings, and social media posts sent
- Fundraising events hosted
- Educational events
- Engagement with email, direct mail, and social media campaigns
- Volume and amount of donations
- Attendance at your fundraising events
- Changes in all of the above over the course of the campaign
How will you gather this data?Collecting the proper data set is impossible without the proper tools. Some valuable data collection tools for nonprofits are:
- The right donation pages. Make sure you can customize your donation form to include fields you need for your analysis. Your donation software should also collect general data useful for tracking trends, such as overall amount and timing of donations.
- Email management systems. Schedule emails to specific segments of your donors, then track who opens your email, who clicks on links, and when they take those actions.
- Social media tools, like these recommended by Salsa Labs. Monitor engagement with your social media posts, including impressions, views, likes, shares, and profile visits.
How can you make your data useful?Keep in mind your ultimate goal isn’t simply measuring but fully understanding the your social impact. With that, it’s time to put together reports. You will need some baseline with which you can compare the community before your campaign and after it. Ensure that you’re collecting data before you actually begin your campaign so you have something to measure your success against. While your data collection should focus on the data points themselves, your reporting can focus on the changes over certain periods of time.
2. Maintain the human element.For all the talk of data and analysis, it can be easy to lose sight of the people behind the numbers. Always remember that at the core of your fundraising practices are the beneficiaries who appreciate your support. Whether you’re developing reports for your internal team, your stakeholders, or your beneficiaries, ensure that you’re keeping your work with your community at the center. You can do this by incorporating:
- Photos. Aim for images that directly show the impact of your specific campaign. If your nonprofit helped collect school supplies for a local school, organize a photoshoot with the teachers and students in their classroom using their new supplies.
- Videos. There’s nothing as impactful as a video testimonial from a beneficiary whose life was improved thanks to one of your programs. Film an interview with someone who has an impactful story to tell.
- Quotes. If you need a quicker and simpler way to incorporate the human element, you can always ask your beneficiaries for a quote that you can use in your reporting. Try to keep these written testimonials short and focused on one specific campaign.
3. Take advantage of partnerships.Remember that you’re not alone in your community. There are partners out there waiting for you to approach them for help tackling the difficult problems you aim to solve. So if you’re unsure whether you can meet the ambitious goals you set for yourself, consider reaching out to some community partners! The most obvious place to look is other nonprofits organizations. If you benefit a similar mission or share many of the same donors, why not work together toward a common cause? Consider hosting a fundraising event together or coordinating digital efforts on a national day of giving. You can also reach out to businesses of all sizes! Think of the benefits of partnering with companies of all sizes:
- Large corporations might have corporate philanthropy programs, such as matching gifts and volunteer grant programs, that you can encourage your donors to take advantage of. Read more about corporate philanthropy on 360MatchPro’s website!
- Smaller companies have the flexibility to get creative with social enterprise to benefit a good cause. Partnering with these kinds of small companies can pay off because your nonprofit gets exposed to a wider donor base — their customers!
- Local businesses can offer you in-kind donations for your fundraising events, like a venue, food, or staff. Sometimes, all it takes to set up these partnerships is for you to walk into a local business and ask to speak with the owner about your nonprofit.
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