Archive for the ‘Issues & Ideas’ Category

Infographics, Data Visualization & Stronger Organizations

May 1, 2012

Sharing thoughts from The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Mar 14, 2012 (

In Visualizing Data Helps Charities Get Attention, a recent article published in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Nicole Wallace paints a compelling picture of the value of infographics and data visualization in communicating a cause and spurring awareness. While the article focuses on charities, the messages and key points are applicable across organizational structures; social enterprises, mission-based businesses, co-operatives, and charities alike could all benefit from Wallace’s insights. (more…)


Performance Management vs. Catch-All Solution

April 30, 2012

Making the Most of Demonstrating Value

“Don’t start with a tool and ask ‘what can I use it for?’.  Ask: ‘what do I want to accomplish?’, then match the right tool and strategy.” Chronicle of Philanthropy @philanthropy (Twitter, April 24)

The Demonstrating Value website offers an assortment of resources that can help you at various stages of your organization’s development. The Demonstrating Value tools and resources were developed to help social enterprises and community organizations build capacity around monitoring and evaluation, enhance their business planning and communicate their social impact. However, we’ve learned that sometimes groups really need to ask the question: when is the right time to embark on the process of developing a snapshot with the Demonstrating Value framework?  

Just as this quote from @Philanthropy says, it doesn’t make sense to pick up a tool like the Demonstrating Value snapshot for the sake of  finding a way to use it (as cool as it is). Rather, in the case of Demonstrating Value, you need to ask whether this is the right tool for your business at this point in its development. (more…)

Navigating the vast ocean of evaluation terminology

March 16, 2012

I recently had the opportunity to participate in an insightful webinar facilitated by Kylie Hutchinson at Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation. This webinar, entitled “You Say Impacts, I Say Outcomes” was all about clarifying the confusion in evaluation terminology. For anyone new to the evaluation field (and even to seasoned evaluation experts), the myriad of interchangeable terms can often lead to miscommunication or even frustration due to the inconsistency and lack of one official “evaluation dictionary”. While there is no immediate solution to solving evaluation term inconsistency, we can help ourselves and those we work with by broadening our understanding of the common themes that link these terms, which will allow us to more comfortably interpret and use this wide vocabulary to its greatest potential.

For me, one of Kylie’s lasting messages was the importance of understanding the foundation of evaluation theory to develop a stronger grasp on the assortment of terms that flood the evaluation field. (more…)

An Alternative Model of Change: The Future Can Be Different and Better

January 26, 2012

Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work

In early 2011, John Kania and Mark Kramer published an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review entitled “Collective Impact”. This article received rave reviews. As the concept of collective impact percolated in the minds of readers, the authors were faced with an outpouring of responses and interest. In short, people liked this approach to collaboration and its ability to significantly address widespread social problems. When it came to social progress, collective impact seemed to emerge as the answer.

Kania and Kramer recently collaborated with Fay Hanleybrown to publish a follow-up article: Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work. The goal of this article is to provide more depth and guidance on how to put the collective impact principles into practice and emphasizes the increased relevance of the concept given the economic and social realities of today. The article builds on the point that collective impact is not just an elegant name for collaboration; rather, it is “…a fundamentally different, more disciplined, and higher performing approach to achieving large-scale social impact.” Another interesting revelation emerges in the article, highlighting that “[e]ven the attempt to use these ideas seems to stimulate renewed energy and optimism”. (more…)

10 Ways to Show Your Impact: Part 2

January 11, 2012

Social Capital Partners: Our Approach

In Part 1 of “10 Ways to Show Your Impact”, we discussed five things you can do to show your value including: 1) be as clear as possible in describing your vision, mission, and strategies, 2) describe what differentiates you, 3) describe and show evidence of the value you create from the perspective of all your stakeholders, 4) tell your story and the stories of those you work with, and 5) create a map of how you are influencing change. Here in Part 2, we will show you five more ways you can express your impact as a community-based organization. While Part 1 focused more on qualitative measures, the tips in Part 2 will take a different spin on things with a greater focus on quantitative measures. (more…)

10 Ways to Show Your Impact: Part 1

January 4, 2012

Community-based organizations are in a tough position: they work tirelessly towards goals that will have positive social or environmental impacts and they know they create a lot of value for the communities they serve –  but, this value is hard to express and recognition from the community is hard to come by. The value created by community-based groups doesn’t get captured very well by standard financial statements because conventional accounting methods do not consider value beyond the financial returns. Expression of the value of social and environmental impacts often falls through the cracks.

So what are community-based organizations to do? How can they express this value to others and get the recognition they deserve? (more…)

Is measuring impact possible?

September 29, 2011

When you hear the word “impact”, what comes to mind? While your first thoughts may include that kickboxing class you just joined, it is it is also true that the term “impact” is often used loosely to encompass any type of reporting about the social or environmental mission of an organization.  In the world of evaluation, this word has a much ‘tighter’ meaning:  Impact is the tracking of long-term outcomes, controlling for external influences, or using randomized control trials to prove that the outcomes are attributable to a particular organization’s efforts.

What does this mean in practice?  Consider the following example which may seem straight forward, but is more challenging when you get down to the details. (more…)