Think about things from a funder’s perspective, if you had money to give, wouldn’t you want to know how your money was spent, how many people were impacted and what changed for the recipients because of your philanthropy? Wouldn’t you also want to know that the program was achievable and sustainable with your funding and the funding of others through tangible measurements? As independent grant writers, our intake process with potential clients is always evolving and becoming more refined. We ask the nonprofits all of the traditional questions; what is your organization’s mission, how have you been funded in the past, what has defined your success and what are your challenges. But the question that seems to give most pause lately is the question of measurable outcomes and accountability to potential funders. How will this program impact the people in your target audience and how will you measure success? Some of the nonprofits we have spoken with have been fortunate to have been funded based purely on intent to make change without the need to seriously measure outcomes. In today’s tighter fiscal climate, that approach just won’t work anymore.
Funders want to know their dollars will create sustainable change and how people in these programs have been impacted by their philanthropy. They enjoy hearing how their funds have impacted individuals and communities through testimonials, but they also want the raw data on how many people their funds are reaching and how their dollars have made measurable impacts on the communities served. Nonprofits are very adept at finding the needs in their communities and creating programs they are passionate about to address those needs. But in today’s world, they need to become equally adept at demonstrating how that need will be filled by their programs with measurable outcomes. The impact of their programs MUST be clearly defined and be measurable or funders may choose not to work with them. Nonprofits need to communicate the meaningfulness of their programs through data and realistic reporting in order to attract and more importantly, retain that funding.