Without data, there is no measurement. Without measurement, there is no reporting. Without reporting, there is no impact story. What could become possible if funders and nonprofits were to reimagine the steps in the chain?
1. With Greater Data Sharing, Funders and Nonprofits Can Speak the Same Language
Traditionally, funders supply the dollars and nonprofits apply those dollars to programs, research or resources. Each side of this social good equation would operate in their own ways, separately, and come together only to connect on grants or reports. Data can help to smooth out the relationship dynamics between funders and nonprofits. If funders and nonprofits put data in the center of the relationship, each side can come together more often and build a stronger understanding of each other and of the progress they are achieving. When nonprofits and funders share more data, more often, they can begin speaking the same language as they collaborate to achieve shared goals.
2. With Greater Data Sharing, Social Good Organizations Can Stay Informed in Real-Time
Historically, funders receive data and reports from nonprofits on an annual, or regular yet infrequent, basis. Instead of waiting for an annual report that will inherently contain outdated data and information, funders and nonprofits can leverage ongoing data sharing through real-time data to keep everyone informed throughout the lifecycle of a program or grant. Where, in the past, funders would often wonder what an annual report would tell them about how their funds were put to use, today, through real-time data access and sharing, funders can check in on progress at any time.
3. With Greater Data Sharing, Funders and Nonprofits Can Make Smart Decisions Together
When data sharing brings funders and nonprofits closer together, helping them to speak the same language and track progress in real-time, this fuels a greater ability to make smart decisions about everything from funding to programs to resources. If funders and nonprofits are connecting more often and tracking data and progress on a regular basis, both sides can flag potential issues, surface new ideas, and be empowered to bring topics to the discussion table as the basis for decision-making. In this way, shared data becomes the key ingredient to stronger, smarter collaboration.
4. With Greater Data Sharing, Funders Can Achieve Greater Social Good ROI
One of the biggest questions at the heart of the new era of funding social good is this: ‘Are we making a good investment, and how do we know?’ Funders are looking for more data and more sophisticated reporting from nonprofits across the board, yet not every nonprofit has the capacity to track, measure and produce the reports funders want – or they cannot do this with a high level of efficiency. Some funders are looking at ways to invest in specific nonprofits’ data and technology operations so that they can boost these capabilities internally – which means they can enhance decision-making and spend more time and energy on the work driving their mission. And, the ROI is there. In a recent ROI study Social Solutions commissioned with Hobson, we found that $1 million of funding for personnel and program delivery could yield 1x the impact return while the same $1 million of funding for an investment in data and reporting technology yielded 3-5x the impact return. We believe that’s a pretty compelling answer to the original ROI question.
The bottom line is that when funders and nonprofits share more data more often, and when that data-sharing is powered by technology that supports a nonprofit’s ability to scale, a world of possibility opens up. For funders who want to see their dollars go further to achieve a measurable impact, start with data.
It’s time to disrupt the social good funding model so you can achieve a greater impact with every dollar you invest in social change. Our team is up to the challenge. Contact us for a conversation about how we can help your funding go further.