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Using outcome metrics to measure not-for-profit impact

After six blog posts going in-depth on the subject of using outcome metrics to measure not-for-profit impact — why they’re important, why they’re elusive, what metrics they involve, and what it takes to track them — we hope that two things are clear:

  • Not-for-profits need to monitor their finances and program performance carefully, and then report on the outcomes extensively. Building trust with funders — donors, granters, members etc. — depends on being a transparent and accountable organization that turns investment into impact.
  • Tracking outcome metrics takes data from all parts of the not-for-profit integrated together and analyzed to understand how inputs (money, time, staff) translate into outputs (meals served, classes offered, members gained etc.).

To boil this down into a single takeaway: Not-for-profits will need exceptional data management skills to keep attracting funding. Where does that leave your not-for-profit?

Seeking a partner in success

For not-for-profits with a small staff and lean resources, the idea of becoming a “data-driven” organization can seem daunting. Even large not-for-profits struggle to turn their data into meaningful insights about performance. Does that mean not-for-profits are doomed to a future of declining donor trust, where their real-world impact is always in question? Not necessarily.

Not-for-profits that successfully leverage outcome metrics have two things working in their favor. First, a data-driven platform that spans all aspects of accounting and finance and extends into operations to track how programs perform. Collecting all the relevant data in one place makes outcomes explicit. It also expedites how not-for-profits assess their outcomes thanks to the help of automation and analytics. Technology plays a major role in how (and how well) not-for-profits begin tracking outcomes metrics. The system in place now probably isn’t adequate.

Which leads into the second asset a not-for-profit needs: the right partner. Selecting an appropriate platform for tracking outcome metrics (not to mention handling the entirety of accounting) takes careful consideration of the options. That’s followed by an implementation and a reorienting of the organization around the new platform in place. Having the right partner to guide this process at each point couldn’t be more important — especially for not-for-profits preparing to leverage data like they never have before.

Baker Tilly Digital – making the modern not-for-profit

As we said in our first post, this is an inflection point for not-for-profits. They must accommodate rising expectations and rely on technology to meet them. Even if the mission and programming stay the same, the back-end of the organization must fundamentally change.

Baker Tilly Digital is here to help engineer that evolution. We offer a complete solution to not-for-profits. That solution includes learning how to leverage not-for-profit outcome metrics and KPI dashboards — but it extends to adapting the organization in whatever ways the people, processes, and technology call for.

Our expertise applies to not-for-profits across the spectrum, helping everyone from churches to community organizations use best-in-class financial management software to propel (and prove) their success towards the mission.

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Next up

Collaborative combinations: charting a strategic path to student success and institutional sustainability