I want to start this post with a shout out to an awesome blog that I follow, Amy Sample Ward’s Version of NPTech. The blog is excellent and I suggest everyone follow it. One of her recent postings was a summary of different “Great reads from around the web on August 23rd” – basically cool things that Amy found on the web. I want to re-post about two of Amy’s finds:
The Foundation Center – a leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide, which maintains the most comprehensive database on US grantmakers and their grants – has partnered with The Skillman Foundation in Detroit to create a Grant Map for the organization, which makes grants with the chief aim of helping to develop good schools and good neighborhoods for children. I love this tool – it is an incredibly powerful visual representation of where grant money is going, with easily accessed information about the organizations receiving the funds. I love how this puts an emphasis on transparency and allows for learning and collaboration between grant-makers as well as nonprofits and mission-driven organizations. Collaboration is something that can be difficult for mission-driven organizations, especially large-scale collaboration. But it is a cornerstone to the success of true Social Impact Assessment. As I mentioned in a previous posting, there is no one organization that can handle the multiple and various activities necessary to holistically address social issues and make significant positive social impact (meaning large-scale – all work towards address social issues are significant in the sense that they are meaningful and powerful).
I would love to see a version of this grant map that goes beyond the geographical and financial assessment of impact, and into true Social Impact Assessment. Since the Skillman Foundation aims to develop good schools and neighborhoods, let’s see on the map just how that is actually happening – the stats of a new school program, how more children are staying in school programs, where school and neighborhood beautification is occurring, all of the things that result from the grants and the hard work of the receiving organizations, and of the community members. My head is spinning with the possibilities!!
In Kansas, the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has made available their Library Value Calculator – a really neat calculator that assigns monetary value to the services they offer (examples are books available for borrowing, programs and classes, tours, etc) and calculates for every $1 in taxes invested in the library the amount of value you get in return. I estimated the amount I use similar services at my own public library to plug into the calculator, and found it to be really insightful and cool.
Where could this one evolve? How about an expansion to the calculator that let’s individual library patrons put in what they have accomplished as a result of the services used at the library? For instance, if you attended an adult class in, let’s say, baking, and used your new knowledge to bake cookies for a bake sale that donated all of it’s earnings to the local neighborhood little league, which was able to use the money to buy all new equipment for their kids, which gave them a sense of pride in their team and taught them about self-respect and sportsmanship – we can see that your tax dollars are actually going much, much further than you may even realize!
Big thanks to Amy Sampler Ward for pointing out these and other amazing works happening right now.
Can everyone out there let me in on more of these awesome tools? And share your thoughts on how they could get even bigger and better so that we can really see and measure positive social impact, and maybe even find or create a tool that can be adapted by all mission-driven organizations for Social Impact Assessment.