Focusing on Results: How Nonprofits are Using Data to Improve Their Communities
Anna Fogel, Social Finance

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Thursday, April 25

To better understand how nonprofits are approaching the growing movement around outcomes, Social Finance surveyed 39 nonprofits and interviewed eight to assess their efforts around collecting outcomes data and planning for scale. Consistent with previous research, most of the respondents reported that they collect programmatic data, but only 12 percent indicated that they have performed an external impact evaluation of their program. The low percentage of nonprofits that have undertaken a formal evaluation likely reflects the often considerable time and expense it involves, which prohibits many organizations from pursuing one.

This session provided an overview of how Social Finance worked with College Possible to move from collecting “what” data (outputs, such as number of people served) to “so what” data (information that indicates progress toward an organization’s mission), and how this information can be used to make data-driven program decisions. College Possible undertook a randomized controlled trial that compared experimental versus control groups, allowing leadership to identify what program components have the greatest impact as well as the degree of impact each component has on improving improve students’ lives.

Social Finance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progressby tackling complex social challenges, facilitating greater access to services for vulnerable populations, and directing capital to evidence-based social programs—all with the goal of measurably improving the lives of people most in need.