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  • Writer's pictureJan Kamish

Nonprofits Expand Their Reach When Outcomes are Measured

“Does our organization accomplish its mission?”

How many times have CEOs and others have asked themselves that question? If they are honest with themselves, the answer is usually “I don’t know”. 

“How many people do we serve?  What are the results of our programs? For example, what use is it to know how many people received meals if we don’t know the impact of giving those meals? Were more people kept out of emergency rooms? Were food pantries in the area less crowded? Did it make any measurable difference at all?”

Today data is everything to any organization. It is currency. Many organizations just do not want to change, or they are afraid. Admittedly, it is daunting to shake up the way things were always done and employ the manpower, but isn’t the definition of insanity always doing the same thing and expecting a different result? With today’s environment going through a pandemic, data collection is more important than ever to be able to improve health and social outcomes. Health and human service organizations are key to assisting people through health and social life crises. Clinical healthcare accounts for only 20% of the modifiable contributors to healthy outcomes and the other 80% are social determinants of health, according to a study completed by the National Academy of Medicine.

How can you collect the right data to prove your mission is being accomplished? Invest in software to run your entire organization, so you can have a single source of truth – a database which includes your day-to-day business operations. Clean up data files which have missing or conflicting information. There are some software tools to do this, and it is worth the investment. Stable government programs are eventually going to be looking for impact data in order to justify funding nonprofits.

Engaging with a technology company will take your organization in a direction which will ensure a future for your mission. Why not take advantage of the latest technical knowledge out there to use it to create so much good in the world? Much can be accomplished when funders can view evidence showing the impact of programs. Stories are nice, but impact is the key word today.

Funders today are looking for impact data, and sadly, most nonprofits do not have it. That makes them ineligible for many grants. It is a leap of faith to trust that a software program will change the whole business model. It might also expose the warts of an organization. Today, though, having a clean bill of health through data just is so helpful to ensure the longevity of the mission. After all, a nonprofit is a business. It has to make money to succeed in its mission or it will not survive. The goal of a for-profit is usually to make money. The goal of a nonprofit is to reach as many people as possible with their mission and to make a difference in their lives. Money is still the lifeblood of both types of models, which means customers and impact have to be counted. For example, do you think a paint company does not know how many people use their products? What type of products? For what purpose? Why would a nonprofit not know the number of customers served?

In order for health and human service organizations to come up to twenty-first century standards, they have to change, and be much more mindful about data. It’s the only way they will survive and thrive.

For more information about a software that can help you collect, analyze, and report on the data you need to advance your mission, visit here.

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