How Urban Affairs Coalition uses numbers to show impact - Generocity Philly

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Jan. 20, 2016 11:55 am

How Urban Affairs Coalition uses numbers to show impact

And how your organization can, too. One tip: Make it easy on yourself.

That's a lot of impact.

(Infographic designed by Skai Blue Media)

In 2015, Urban Affairs Coalition consulted on $7.2 billion in economic development project costs, produced $545 million in wages to people of color and women, and provided summer jobs for 1,600 low-income Philadelphia youth.

Those are just a few of the numbers included in the powerful infographic UAC put out in November detailing the collective impact of its work over the previous year. 

Some other standout figures:

  • UAC’s social investment over the past 46 years it’s been in business totals $1 billion.
  • In 2015, it awarded 409 grants worth over $1.3 million.
  • The “collective wisdom” of its partner organizations’ leaders totals 824 years in the nonprofit sector.

UAC, a nonprofit that provides fiscal sponsorship and support services to social impact organizations, collects this data by sending a year-end survey to each of its 60-plus partner organizations asking for numbers relating to their individual impact — how many volunteers they used, how many years their directors have been working in the sector, etc.

The goal is to calculate UAC’s collective financial and social impact on the communities it reaches via these partner organizations. It helps with perspective: Sometimes when you’re in the throes of on-the-ground mission-minded work, “it’s hard to have a 10,000-foot view of the work,” said Tivoni Devor, partnership and outreach manager at UAC. “You don’t see the societal [impact] of what you’re doing.”

But it’s important to show off your organization’s impact because it makes a clear case for why it should continue to be funded, Devor said. That’s why UAC hired PR firm Skai Blue Media to design the infographic, which was presented at UAC’s fundraising breakfast in November — an event that raises thousands for the organization.

The money UAC raises helps cut the cost of its business services used by the organizations enacting the direct social impact, so it’s essential to communicate to funders that their money is going to a good place, Devor said.

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“Our clients aren’t the hungry families, our clients are the people who help those hungry families,” he said. “We’re trying to show [funders] that by helping us, you’re really helping everybody.”

Here’s Devor’s advice to nonprofits unsure of how to start collecting impact data:

  1. Work in increments. “It’s about doing a little bit at a time so you’re not doing a big rush at the end of the year,” he said. “Every day or week, [take] five minutes and look at your reports or your outcomes and add that to a document.”
  2. Lessen your workload. Count just a few value points that are most essential to your mission to keep from feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Be creative with measurement. If your organization helps disadvantaged kids go to college, add up how much collective scholarship money they earned — or take it a step further and estimate how much more in lifetime earnings they could make, thanks to college degrees.
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