The above quote comes from management guru Peter Drucker. At Partners Worldwide, we firmly believe he is correct; collecting and analyzing impacts is essential in managing and building local community institutions. If you don’t measure the impact of your work, how will you know if you’ve truly had an impact?
The first step is to gather information - results, statistics, stories, impacts, etc - from your clients/members. For many LCIs, getting started is the hardest part. Data gathering can be time-consuming, it can feel like guesswork, and sometimes it seems unfruitful. Some LCIs say they don’t have time to gather client information, because they need to focus on the true mission of the organization, serving their clients! But without gathering information, how can you understand your clients? And without understanding them, how can you serve them effectively? Step one is really about listening and understanding.
Next, it’s important to take the information you gather and put the data to work. Don’t let it collect dust on a shelf. Set goals. Make them realistic, specific, and measureable. Use your client impact data to create appropriate benchmarks for success, in alignment with your existing strategies and goals.
And lastly, set your eyes on continual improvement. Don’t settle for the status quo. Always seek to improve and refine your processes in order to meet your goals.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
Just getting started?
- Consider using this Client Intake Template form. Feel free to download it, edit it, and make it your own.
- Think about using focus groups as a relational, interactive way to gather input from your clients. A focus groups can be defined as a demographically diverse group of people assembled to participate in a discussion and provide feedback on the services and impact of your LCI.
- From USAID’s Micro-links platform, here is a comprehensive yet simple overview for Designing and Conducting Interviews and Focus Groups. This may be especially helpful for micro-finance institutions.
- Here’s a presentation PW staff put together entitled A Culture of Leaders who are Listening and Learning.
- At PW, we always think of business impacts in terms of quadruple bottom lines. Read Dr. Steve Graves' article How Many Bottom Lines Are There, Anyway? for a good synopsis of the multiple bottom line approach.
Want to go deeper?
- The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are a great inspiration for excellence in impact and measurable goal-setting in the development context.
- Progress out of Poverty is a top notch measurement tool for organizations with a mission to serve the poor. It can help you measure poverty outreach and improve social performance. Let the PW staff know if they can help you implement this tool.
- How to Understand your Customers’ Needs and Expectations, from socialenterpriseworks.org
- The book Measuring and Improving Social Impacts by Marc Epstein and Kristi Yuthas is a terrific resource. Find it on Amazon.com here.
- An in-depth evaluation resource written by PW staff entitled Doing by Learning.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.