measure results + do more of what works

A Simple, Business-Minded Formula for Nonprofit Achievement

George Roberts is a billionaire, one of the three founding partners of a global investment firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. An innovator, he was a pioneer of leveraged buyouts in the mid-1960s. In 1997 he launched REDF (Roberts Enterprise Development Fund), a venture philanthropy organization that invests in social enterprise businesses.

He became convinced that the best way to help people live better lives is to get them working, in jobs with companies. REDF gives grants, loans, and other help to companies that are geared to providing jobs for people who otherwise have had a hard time finding or keeping them. These companies earn profits that are then re-invested into helping more people get jobs.

Roberts thinks like an investor. He looks for returns. With REDF he monitors these factors: (1) people employed, and (2) lives changed. When I looked at REDF’s website, this is the statement that jumped out at me: “a commitment to measure results and double down on what works.”

Two things. Three, actually:

1.    Know what results you want.

2.    Measure them.

3.    Whatever works, do more of that.

Pretty simple. You would think all nonprofits would be doing that. But no. There are three problems:

1.    Nonprofits often don’t really know what results they want – at least not in clear, measurable ways.

2.    Nonprofits often flinch at the time and money required for good measurement – or lack the expertise.

3.    Nonprofits often don’t know what’s actually producing results – or are stuck in current programs so can’t be agile in making shifts.  

(Shameless plug: yeah, I can help with these things. Email me.)

love, joy, peace … Michael Michael is a freelance consultant to nonprofits, with an emphasis on research. Contact him for a free, one-hour consultation.

Vol. 1 No. 31