Non-Profit Best Practices: Tracking Tangible Results

Research and common wisdom proves that donors prefer giving to a ministry or non-profit they know is having a significant impact.  Very few organizations take the time to measure results and share these tangible trackable numbers with their staff, board or donors.  As the economy tightens the budget for many donors, it is an industry best practice for organization to track the impact data in order to win donors’ attention and dollars. If a donor removes the emotions from the decision, how will they determine who to support in 2009?  One local non-profit that tracks their progress and that has the eye of many Hope donors is Advance Memphis.

Like any other non-profit, Advance Memphis has a mission, vision, and staff members who work tirelessly to pursue them. Advance Memphis also shares another common trait of many non-profits: a small staff facing big challenges.

In order to steward resources and ensure that consistent progress is made toward goals, Advance has embraced outcome-based management, tying specific activities to their mission statement and to a numerical baseline against which to measure progress.

While the ultimate goal is to bring glory to God, staff members have found that using measurable goals in day to day work activities has helped them to discern where more energy is required, and to determine which programs are having the most impact on the lives of Advance Memphis participants.

In 2008 every Advance Memphis staff member set specific, measurable goals for each program and tracked those through monthly reports to their Program Manager. Results were then tallied in the quarterly newsletter, giving volunteers and donors the chance to hold staff accountable, and keep up with the good news. Year end results were shared in the December newsletter, and an additional Return on Investment Report tied Advance Memphis’ outcomes to the broader community, allowing donors to see how their investment had not just changed lives, but had also saved taxpayer dollars by empowering Advance participants to begin moving from welfare to employment.

Donors responded with great enthusiasm to the ROI report, sharing that they appreciated being able to share in the joy of the tangible results in the Cleburne/Foote homes. In 2009, staff members have refined their goals and their reporting methods, and are looking forward to reporting more specific information to their donors. Advance has even gone a step farther to recruited a new volunteer—a health economist from the University of Tennessee—who will assist them in gathering and tracking more specific data for the 2009 version of the Return on Investment Report. Advance staff members agree that by holding themselves accountable and reporting regularly to donors, they’re able to make the most of the resources entrusted to them.

For more information on Advance Memphis please visit or contact Director, Steve Nash at 901.543.8525.

Advance Memphis serves adults in the Cleaborn/Foote community of inner city Memphis by helping residents acquire knowledge, resources, and skills to be economically self-sufficient through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.