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Impact measurement has been dubbed the Holy Grail of all social enterprise. If non-profit and for-profit social enterprises could capture the lasting difference made from all the meetings, projects, programs, fundraisers, volunteers, budgets and staff, we would have arrived. We would know if all the donations, charity walks, social media campaigns, grant proposals and collaborative partnerships are worth it. Not surprisingly, no one has found a short cut to universal impact measurement. There is no simple formula that determines whether a charity is ‘high impact,’ I believe there are a few specific steps to take when assessing any non-profit’s impact.
What if the once-a-year "reveals" of a charity's impact had the hype of the iPhone 5? What if millions of people spent time guessing about program upgrades and the higher performance that the most dynamic charity in the world had developed in the past year? What if people were making viral videos and sketching out projections for a charity's outcomes and functions before real pictures and numbers were revealed? I could only wish that charities Excellence in Giving clients support stirred such anticipation to see their latest performance. I would love to receive a mysterious invite (like Apple is about to send to tech media writers) to attend a dramatic presentation of new charitable program designs and their increased productivity. Maybe one day the presentation of a charity's annual report would warrant that hype.
Generous giving might be a sign of a selfless heart. Jesus once said, “Where you put your money is the same place you’ll find your heart.” It makes sense. If all my money goes to fund youth mentoring programs in downtown, I may have a selfless heart. The same could be said if I sponsored a Chilean child, funded a rural clinic in Cambodia, and significantly contributed to HIV/AIDS reduction in Zambia.
Giving does say something about my (metaphorical) heart. However, the story better not start and end as a tale all about me.