Build partner capacity for data capacity, verification, and seamless funder reporting
Do you fund or manage social impact programs? Do you care to know What and how much change your programs are really creating? How about mapping your change journey with the partners you are working with? Today I’ll provide some tips for Impact Funds, Foundations, Governments, Family offices, Social Impact Accelerators, and intermediaries to design a collaborative impact management process. To simplify, we will call these types of organizations “Impact Managers.”
Collective impact is an approach to align key results or outcomes and verification between key impact ecosystem players. Here are a few common examples -
1) Multiple Funders collaborate on the outcome:
2) Single Funder or Accelerator wants to build data capacity of partners:
3) Social Auditing and Third-Party Verification
4) Real-time Stakeholder Needs and Feedback Loop:
COVID-19 Relief - Food Bank:
During our unique global situation, we have seen many brave organizations providing essential services to help communities in distress. This kind of support will continue for quite some time, and we expect many more humanitarian programs to emerge as we begin to experience the true consequences of this situation.
Learn how INGO is using Impact Cloud to learn food assistance and satisfaction in India.
Read More: Real-time stakeholder feedback
5) Funders can do a quick longitudinal assessment of other impact makers
Impact Managers normally provide funding resources and collect impact data from Social Entreprises, Non-profits, or For-profits. They are called external Impact Partners.
As an Impact manager, how do you collect results from your partners?
(You can use Impact Manager Video clip)
- Receive data in Excel documents from partners, grantees, and investees
- Collecting qualitative data as stories in PDFs
- Keep receiving one Excel book year after year
Multiple excel datasheets collected yearly over the years, data in the stories, and high staff turnover makes evaluation of positive or negative impact very difficult. Without consistent quality data, impact measurement and management is if not impossible, very time consuming and expensive!
So, how do we start?
Let's discuss the importance of having a framework, whether using Theory of Change or 5 Dimensions of Impact.
We have also talked about types of metrics and alignment to Sustainable Development Goals.
You can find the links to all these videos below.
This session will help Impact Managers understand how to collaborate with impact partners, such as social enterprise, grantees, non-profits, and investees to collect high-quality outcome data.
But before that, don’t forget to smash that like button and SUBSCRIBE! Join our rapidly growing Impact Management Movement so you don’t miss any of the upcoming content!
Without further ado, let’s jump into the THREE STEPS to high-quality results collection.
Step 1: Document your current process
What is your Impact Strategy TODAY? Check if you have,
- An impact framework such as Theory of Change or Impact Management Project
- Well defined metrics to track your impact/outcome
- How about your partners? Do they have an impact framework?
- Do your impact framework and partner’s framework align?
- How do you normally collect results from your partners? (Email, PDF, Google forms, Excel spreadsheets, etc).
- Do you aggregate your result?
- How deep do you go to collect data? Do you collect data directly from your partners’ beneficiaries and stakeholders?
Step 2: Design your future state process
The future state impact framework starts by filling the gaps from the above checklist.
How can you streamline the current processes for faster data collection, consistent outcome data, higher data integrity, and true learning?
As your portfolio grows, your framework, data collection and reporting complexity will increase. So, build your future state framework flexible.
We recommend following these best practices in designing your future state framework:
- Make sure you have selected the right impact framework.
If you are coming from an impact investing background, you might want to use the 5 Dimensions of Impact to demonstrate environmental and social impact, in addition to financial returns based on IRIS, GRI, SDG, and other standards.
Other organizations might prefer the Theory of Change framework.
- Group your outcomes and metrics around impact themes, such as Cleantech or Job Creation. This is critical for better results collection and aggregation across multiple partners.
In some cases, the partners are so different that it is hard to align them towards a common theme. In that case, you can create a group of “core metrics”, which are metrics that apply to all your partners, regardless of their area of impact, for example, “total people served.” And on top of that, you can add a few more specific metrics relevant to each partner’s area of impact.
- Make sure to use technology that allows your partners to provide results in a timely manner. Here are some characteristics of this technology that you have to consider:
- Allows you to collect results in multiple frequencies
- Allows you to collect governance, environmental and financial data, on top of the impact results
- Allows you to document clear definitions of calculations required for the partners to report the proper data
- Allows you to analyze the results per partner and aggregated across all your portfolio
- Allows you to collect qualitative and quantitative data and includes data valuation to keep your results clean and ready to use
- It allows you to document baseline results and compare to annual results, targets, and forecasted values.
- It allows you to collect data for different phases of your process, such as Due Diligence, Monitoring & Evaluation, and Post-exit.
And the most important one, Step 3:
Strengthen the impact reporting capacity of your Impact Partners:
We strongly recommend Impact Managers to review the data capacity of investees or grantees. Otherwise, even if the framework is tight from your side, you might not receive the quality results that you are requesting your partners to report.
Wherever the data-collection capacity of the partners needs improvement, you may advise on systems or processes to improve the quality of the outcome data.
Consider funding your partners' data capacity as this can be the biggest value created by you and for you. Good data collection and management allows continuous learning and improvement of stakeholder outcomes.
Finally, reduce the reporting burden by agreeing to the most important metrics with your partners. This collaborative process can increase efficiency and quality of outcome data thus improves Outcome Management.
Some of our progressive Impact Managers leverage the Impact Cloud platform to streamlines the data collection from partners through an online survey. It has three advantages,
- It provides high-quality data validation and context.
- It allows the partners to provide supporting documents, evidence, and stories.
- It helps partners scale to solve global problems.
Well, thanks for watching everyone. I will leave you with these thoughts. I’m curious to hear what challenges you and your organization are currently facing when it comes to collecting, aggregating, and analyzing results from multiple partners?