We Foundation supports NGOs in bringing their work and social impact visible. In the past six months I’ve supported different organizations in adopting visitor tracking and impact assessment technology and taken part in developing the system further. In this blog I’ll share six insights that have surprised and delighted me.
1. Assessing impact is not astrophysics or a secret science
Sometimes assessing social impact sounds like rocket science. Many organizations don’t have the time or hands on deck to carry it out. But, at the end of the day, it comes down to how to assess impact in a way that allows developing operations and efficient reporting to donors and funders.
2.Everybody wants to know the impact of their operations
Every NGO I’ve had the privilege of working with in these six months is trying to figure out how to follow and measure their impact, which metrics to use, how to reliably gather data and how to report it. There is a clear need for a simple, easy to use tool developed to meet the needs of NGOs. The technology developed by We Foundation is already in use in tens of locations, including our own community house Meltsi in Helsinki.
3. Data is not the Boogeyman
This has been an important realization on a personal level as well. Data and measuring impact are nothing to be afraid of. Data is unbiased information on what has happened. This information sparks conversation and insights and leads to decisions and actions. The impact and results of actions taken can be followed with curiosity, and new decisions and experiments can be made based on these observations.
4. Open dialogue with our partners is at the core of developing our system
This might be obvious, but I still keep reminding myself. Our partners know their communities best, so we are keen to understand their everyday work and needs. We get constant feedback on how the new features of our system have been received and based on the feedback we fine-tune our product.
5. Using technology bears fruit, but it takes patience
Adopting new technology might feel like a lot of work and – understandably – it’s always nerve racking to hear how it is received. New habits take a bit of work and repetition to take root. But just wait for the day you see how the work you’ve put in is making life easier and your operations even more impactful – you’ll see it was all worth it.
6. People are pleased when they are heard and their experiences and needs are taken into account
Both I and pretty much all of our partners have pondered anonymity and whether people want to share information about themselves when they take part in activities. A positive lesson learned has been that people are pleased when they are heard and their needs and experiences are taken into account. Better insights on who are taking part in activities makes it easier to develop and plan operations based on real needs of the community and to ensure that those most in need are reached. I am also proud to say that we have put extra emphasis on data protection and privacy since day one.
I’m proud I get to support NGOs in the important work they do and, at the same time, learn from our partners every day. I see how measuring impact is a hot potato in the third sector and I can’t wait to work with even more partners and colleagues – also internationally!
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