Toms Shoes, the company that pioneered the “buy one, give one” social entrepreneurship model into the mainstream, is now reconsidering its business and social impact model. For every shoe sold, the company provides a pair to an underprivileged child in a developing nations and, although this sounds like a great idea, this model has come under fire numerous times. Critics question whether such models actually relieve poverty, or if they simply perpetuate it by failing to provide any sustainable improvements to a recipient’s or community’s quality of life.
It seems the company is starting to take these concerns to heart: TOMS will be opening a manufacturing facility in Haiti which will employ 100 Haitians starting in January 2014. By the end of 2015, they have pledged to produce 1/3 of all their products in a “responsible, sustainable” environment – meaning in locations that they actually donate and distribute shoes.
What do you think about the buy on, give on model? Is it productive or damaging to communities receiving the model’s output? Comment or send us a tweet @ImpactFlo to get the conversation started!
What is the Millennial Impact Report?
Last week, Achieve and The Case Foundation, along with their partners, released the Millennial Impact Report, an assessment of the social impact activity of people under 30, aka the Millennial generation. The report includes data about Millennials’ propensity to donate, their expectations from nonprofit organizations’ websites, reporting, social impact and social media practices.
This is the third article in our series, The Step by Step Guide to Tracking Social Impact
As an organization, you know you must measure something to demonstrate success, but what? Should your metrics be dollars raised or houses built or bottles of water supplied? Tracking social impact isn’t a straight and narrow process, there are several branches to consider and this week we’ll explore a more concrete element: metrics.
Let’s take another look at your mission statement. Pick out the clauses that describe exactly what you wish to achieve as an organization. Now, concisely identify what it is you do – whether that’s build houses for disadvantaged families or provide a platform for microlending.
CNN partnered with the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting to disseminate the results of a yearlong investigation of American charities’ shortcomings as organizations. It is clear from the findings that nonprofit transparency is an urgent issue. [You can check out their list of 50 worst charities in America here.]
The article, published last week, has garnered significant media attention for the poor scores many organizations received. In one case, an organization spent less than 1% of their total revenue on their mission. Less than 1%! This number, of course, is shameful and disturbing, not only for the needy but also for the donors who had entrusted the organization to do good.
This is the second article in our series, The Step by Step Guide to Tracking Social Impact
Now that you have clarified what your work is, how it is completed and why it is important, it’s time to begin organizing your information by outlining the specifics of your work. Storytelling will be important to tracking social impact, because personal stories buttress abstract performance indicators.
Think of your mission statement as a theorem – a hypothesis of the change in the world that you believe you can achieve. Before proven, a theorem is just words; a theory made up of assumptions requiring validation. How do you prove a theorem? Start broad and become more specific with each step of analysis.
This is the first article in our series, The Step by Step Guide to Tracking Social Impact
Last week, I wrote about using data to tell your organization’s story. As a photographer and journalist, the importance of storytelling prevails in my thoughts. Although most organizations aren’t media focused, they have the best resource for curating a message: the people they help in their respective communities. I find that tracking social impact goes hand-in-hand with storytelling. Donors and volunteers are interested in understanding the tangible results of your work, while making personal connections with beneficiaries.
“Big data” is a trendy buzz word. Sure, the ability to process and handle absurdly large amounts of data has become greater and more accessible, but the fact of the matter is that if an organization is not sure how to begin measuring and organizing, buying into the “big data” movement is useless. Storytelling for nonprofits is not as difficult as one might think; organizations can utilize their data in a meaningful way to emotionally connect with the public.
Steve Bowland of Non Profit Quarterly wrote something that made a lot of sense to me in trying to simplify this seeming monolith of “BIG DATA.” He says, “One of the things Big Data can do is help tell the story of how you plan to make a difference in your community.”
NGOs and non-profit organizations face difficult issues in attempting to effectively communicate the work they perform – to both potential volunteers, and donors. In practice, relationships with wealthy donors may be more personal than a ‘donate now’ button. Demonstrating social impact through an interactive catalogue of ongoing and completed projects can serve to assist the organizations themselves, volunteers, and donors as well.
The most well known misfortune of humanitarian nonprofits is their grapple with securing funding and resources to provide their altruistic services. While maintaining enough mana to proceed with status quo operations is an obvious necessity, organizations and the missions they serve ultimately benefit from expanding their reach and deepening their impact. To do so requires improving efficiency and efficacy by analyzing data gathered and implementing strategy based on that analysis.