Creating a new generation of data to solve social problems.
In the past few years, measurement has quickly evolved from a “nice to have” to a “must have” for nonprofits. Government agencies, foundations, and private donors have been demanding answers to the question: Did that program make a difference?
For a volunteer program to appeal to a company, it must match volunteer opportunities with the company’s goals. In my last Measuring Up post, I outlined a method for measuring the value volunteers bring to nonprofit organizations. In this post, we’ll zoom in on how to make your volunteer programs appealing to companies.
It has been almost 10 years since Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, igniting an already smoldering debate in the baseball community about the relative merits of choosing players based on scouting versus straight statistical analysis. Over the last decade, this burgeoning analytics movement has exploded: When a book about baseball data is turned into a movie featuring Brad Pitt, you know the topic has hit the mainstream. This shift toward “stats” can be seen in the nonprofit world as well, as organizations increasingly look to measurement as a way to improve their programs and raise more money.
If you haven’t seen Girl Rising yet, go and see it. More than just a beautiful film about nine courageous girls, Girl Rising is at the center a social action campaign called 10x10 dedicated to empowering girls globally through education. As the measurement partner for 10x10 – a campaign founded by award-winning journalists at The Documentary Group and Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions, along with strategic partner, Intel Corporation – Mission Measurement has had the privilege of seeing this incredible campaign come to fruition over the last year. Measuring the impact of a social action campaign is not easy, particularly one as far-reaching and complex as 10x10, but it can be done practically and powerfully.
Volunteers are a vital part of many nonprofit groups. But whether and how nonprofits measure the value of those volunteers varies widely.
When it comes to well-worn rock-star-as-diva clichés, it doesn’t get much better than the classic story about the rock band Van Halen. The group members, so the story goes, were so focused on trivial matters that they had a special clause in their contract that their backstage bowl of M&Ms had to have all of the brown ones removed. If not, Van Halen would not only demand new candy but reserved the right to cancel the entire show. Classic diva move, right?Actually, it turns out that Van Halen’s M&M clause was not trivial at all. In fact, buried in the middle of a lengthy document, that clause was a smart way to ensure that the stage crew had read the contract thoroughly and understood the safety requirements for the band’s legendarily over-the-top performances with so much heavy equipment.
Teachers have always sought new ways to make learning in the classroom more fun and more relevant to their students. However, once students move beyond elementary school, a lot of the “fun” tends to go away: no more Gold Rush simulations during history class, multiplication games during math, and certainly no more time set aside to play games in the computer lab. Too much fun is often perceived as empty calories: it gets students’ attention, but doesn’t have enough educational value.
With renewed emphasis on student engagement as a critical piece of academic success, that paradigm is now shifting. Games in the classroom are being explored again, and this time beyond elementary school.
When we talk about individuals as impact buyers, we are referring to everyday people who spend their own money to invest in organizations that produce direct or indirect value to them. Unlike a “psychic donor” who gives only because it feels good (or feels an obligation) to do so, the impact buyer benefits from an organization’s work and is able and willing to pay for the benefits he receives.
The rise of crowdfunding and shifting generational dynamics are two of many inputs telling us that we are at a time of great opportunity to figure out (a) what propels individuals to pay for the results we produce and (b) which results help these donors meet a need, solve a problem, or mitigate a pain point.
It has become widely accepted that investing in corporate social responsibility (CSR) makes good business sense. A study by Accenture found that 78 percent of executives see social responsibility as vital to the future growth of their business, and corroborating statistics abound. Whether companies view CSR as risk mitigation or value creation, it is easy to argue that doing more good is better for business, or at the very least does no harm.
However, a study published by Michael Barnett (Rutgers) and Robert Salomon (NYU) debunks this logic with data that show that doing more good can actually do harm for some companies. In studying 1,214 public companies, the researchers found that the relationship between financial performance (measured by net income and return on assets) and social performance (evaluated using Kinder, Lydenberg and Domini data) is not linear but rather is U-shaped.