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If you haven’t seen Gail Perry’s “Top 10 Fundraising Trends and Predictions for 2016“, this blog is well worth reading and discussing with your team.

Gail states that “If you want to be successful, then your nonprofit’s fundraising approach needs to adapt and innovate. The stakes are high.” That is so true – if you want your organisation to thrive in 2016 you need to be able to innovative and try some new ways of engaging your donors and supporters.

Number 9 Trend is ‘Clear measures of performance and impact will be required by donors and funders.’ Do you agree?

Gail says that smart nonprofits are:

Talking about their accomplishments in meaningful and measurable ways.

  • Demonstrating clear results for the people or causes they serve.
  • Turning their annual reports into “impact reports.”
  • This means that this sector is thinking about and moving towards impact and outcome measurement and developing ways to report on their results in more engaging ways.

Kim Jonker is another consultant that says “Effective evaluation enables an organisation to exert influence across the nonprofit sector and to generate momentum for a particular type of intervention.” These are important reasons to become confident and passionate about evaluating your work and outcomes.

So if 2016 is going to be a successful and influential year for you, can I encourage you to become an expert story teller and develop your strategy to measure your outcomes.

If you find mapping and measuring your outcomes confusing, then this metaphor by Sharon Martin might be helpful.

Imagine what happens when a rock is dropped into a pond. The rock is like a material INPUT, the person holding the rock is like a human resource INPUT. The act of dropping the rock is like an ACTIVITY. When the rock reaches the water, it creates a splash. These are your OUTPUTS. The ripples, spreading out from the splash are like your OUTCOMES, short, medium and long term. The edge of the pond represents the geographic and population boundaries of your project.

The ripples (Outcomes) can be affected by other disturbances in the pond. You can influence the ripples, at least those ripples that are closer to the original splash. To use this influence, you must know how to deal with the other disturbances in the pond, i.e. Opportunities and Obstacles.

At the outer edges of the pond, where the ripples are wide and distant from the splash, your influence has diminished further. Here, at the level of Long Term Outcome, all you can do is contribute to the big picture and the long-range changes you seek.

Every splash and ripple sequence is an experiment. The more you know about the Splash and Ripple effect of your project or intervention, the better able you are to add to or alter your Inputs and Activities to yield better results. Using this image: you can drop the rocks in differently, by dropping in bigger rocks, or dropping in fewer or more.

If you would like to know more about mapping and measuring your outcomes – or should I say ‘ripples’ – then please contact me as I will be conducting various training days on this topic this year.


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