Today on the blog we welcome Karen A. Florez, C.F.A. and manager of investments at The Minneapolis Foundation. Karen reports on the Mission Investing Network Forum held at the Northwest Area Foundation on October 20. The forum addressed “How to Measure Social Impact.”
Northwest Area Foundation hosted a full house of diverse attendees representing a wide range of area nonprofit leadership, staff, board members, consulting firms and financial institutions.
Amy Jensen, investment director at Northwest Area Foundation, kicked off the event by sharing the decision-making process, experiences and lessons–learned as her organization evolved their Impact Investing model. There was plenty of audience participation with good discussion, questions, sharing of resources and wading through industry acronyms. Most of the organizations represented in the room are rapidly expanding the time and resources they put toward mission-investment endeavors. We are clearly growing a valuable network in this community!
Amy then led a panel presentation and discussion with Tom Woelfel, PCV Insight, and Tim Bubnack and Hope Mago, HCAP Partners. A wide range of insights, ideas and suggestions flowed from this dialogue.
- This is a collaborative effort and we are all learning as we go along. Leverage the capabilities and resources available as you build your program.
- Be flexible with the partners you choose to work with. Talk with partners about values and culture early on, and really take time to get to know the people. Carefully evaluate if they are a good fit for your organization and mission.
- Get samples of reports that potential partners are creating, ask how their strategy came to be, how long they have been doing it, what impact measurements they document and what they ultimately do with that data.
- Establish the social metrics you wish to measure in advance of initiating a program. Content around the numbers is increasingly important.
- Start measurement early on and try to set expectations of what you consider to be good quality data. The first steps are the most challenging and the most significant effort is in getting started with staffing, strategy, priorities and documentation. It may not feel perfect, but just do it!
The program ended with another round of great discussion and plenty of casual conversation after we adjourned.
Enormous thanks to Amy Jensen for planning and executing a very strong, relevant and thought-provoking event!
Photo: Flickr CC