Tracking Social Impact with Ashoka Changemakers: How Dreams for Kids is Getting it Right

April 18, 2012 at 6:31 am

Wonderful news! Investing In Communities is excited to announce a new partnership with Ashoka Changemakers. As a Funding Partner on Changeshops Beta, IIC will require all funding recipients to set up a free Changeshop so they (and we) can track the social impact of IIC’s funds.

What is social impact, anyway? When we talk about measuring social impact, we generally mean measuring social or environmental outcome – the result of implementing a program, producing a good, or consuming a product or service.  Outcomes are distinct from outputs – the amount of goods produced or products delivered [1].

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Grow and track your impact – and we mean your outcome!

And why is this distinction important? Suffice it to say that the past ten years have seen an incredible upsurge in both the intensity and extent of outcome-oriented philanthropy [2]. Put another way, let’s face it: tracking the impact of social ventures has become an integral factor in determining which organizations receive funding. Foundations, corporate donors, and the government are all starting to evaluate impact. Funding is scarce, and you don’t want your organization to miss the boat. But it’s not just about funding. The real goal of impact assessment is to understand how to better serve your beneficiaries. (To read more about the broader implications of this industry shift to outcome-oriented philanthropy, we encourage you to check out a recent article by IIC’s Colleen Poynton: “The Challenges of Measuring Impact Assessment”).

With these two objectives in mind – funding and social good – let’s look at just how Investing In Communities’ partnership with Ashoka Changemakers will help nonprofits, consumers, and real estate professionals make a difference in their communities.  First, to introduce the players:

  • Ashoka is a global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs—men and women with system-changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Some of us may have fully-scaled, system-changing social solutions, but for the rest of us there’s Ashoka Changemakers.
  • Ashoka Changemakers provides the tools and resources to empower everyone to contribute to a better world. No matter where you are starting, or where you are going, Changemakers makes it easier to share an idea, track progress, communicate with supporters, and invest in global change.

Through IIC’s new partnership with Changemakers, Nonprofit Partners gain access to their own personal Changeshop – a simple, free, transparent tool that enables social innovators to track the impact of IIC funding. In addition to enabling impact tracking, a Changeshop also empowers Nonprofit Partners to:

  • Receive free, unrestricted funding through IIC and other major donors
  • Gain visibility on the world’s most important social change platform
  • Connect with new ideas, supporters, and resources
  • Share their social and environmental impact

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYtSVSsWRis]

And impact tracking isn’t only valuable for nonprofits. Corporate Friends and Real Estate Members can also track the actual impact of funding generated through their transactions. Imagine if you or your company could say “my real estate deal provided free dental care to 100 disadvantaged children for one year” instead of just “my transaction generated $10,000 for charity.” Not that generating $10,000 for charity is bad – it’s fantastic! But communicating the details of your good deeds more strongly associates your company’s brand with high-impact philanthropy. Furthermore, corporate users – whether Friends or Real Estate Members – can gather social impact data for their own CSR reporting directly from the Changeshops of Nonprofit Partners.

So: we’ve explored how a Changeshop works and how Changemakers Changeshops benefits the entire IIC community. Now, let’s take a look at how an amazing Nonprofit Partner is using its Changeshop to communicate its mission, growth, funding, and impact.

For organizations like Dreams for Kids, everybody is a social entrepreneur. Dreams for Kids is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to replacing charity with empowerment and opportunity for at-risk and disabled youth.  Through its flagship Dream Leaders program, teens receive training in social entrepreneurship – in short, they learn how to make a difference while acquiring the skills necessary to succeed in school, to prepare themselves for future careers, and to become empathetic, productive citizens of the world.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItfdTK1vhUM]

As you can see, the Dream Leaders program incorporates three primary components – what a fascinating afterschool opportunity!

  • Service Learning: empowerment through high-impact volunteerism
  • Social Entrepreneurship Training: empowerment through an innovative afterschool curriculum that enables participants to create their own social enterprises.
  • We Are The Change Conference™: empowerment through weekend conferences designed to support students’ social enterprises, enhance knowledge of social issues, teach industry best-practices, and increase the impact of students’ projects in their communities and worldwide.

In October, Dreams for Kids received $5,000 in unrestricted funding through Investing In Communities’ $42,000 random drawing.  This funding enabled Dreams for Kids to sponsor not one, but TWO Dream Leaders groups. Each group empowers 16 teens to imagine and launch their dream social ventures. So, you see – IIC didn’t just give away $5000 in funding. Urban Partnership Bank’s real estate deal didn’t just generate $5,000 for this great charity. The true outcome of this $5,000 is as follows:

32 at-risk, underserved Chicago teens participated in a life-changing afterschool program. As a result of their participation in this program, these students were x more likely to attend college, y less likely to become involved in gangs, and z more likely to volunteer in their communities. And perhaps the impact of these students’ empowerment will be multiplied. Imagine if one of these 32 students were to launch a project in her community – a project that provided x benefit to y community members with z cumulative impact.

What do x, y, and z equal? And how do they change over time? What is the ultimate impact of IIC’s $5,000 contribution to Dreams for Kids? Now THAT’s what Changeshops is for.  Visit Dreams for Kids’ Changeshop to track the progress of these young social entrepreneurs. Watch this Dream Leaders YouTube video and imagine the possibilities for these inspiring young people. We’ll also be posting videoclips detailing the wonderful work of IIC’s two Dream Leaders groups in a follow-up post – stay tuned!

Dreams for Kids' Changeshop

Check out Dreams for Kids’ Changeshop, then set up yours today!

Dream for Kids truly exemplifies the “pay it forward” ethic that IIC is so proud to support. Would your nonprofit like to track and share its impact, receive unrestricted funding from IIC and other major donors, and connect with new ideas, supporters, and resources? Create your free profile today at IIConline.org and begin tracking your impact at no cost with a Changemakers Changeshop.

Citations:

[1] Ebrahim, Alnoor and V. Kastury Rangan. The Limits of Nonprofit Impact: A Contingency Framework for Measuring Social Performance. Harvard Business School Working Paper. 2010. pg 10-15.

[2] Brest, Paul. “A Decade of Outcome-Oriented Philanthropy.” Stanford Social Innovation Review. Spring 2012. Accessed 16 April 2012. <http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/a_decade_of_outcome_oriented_philanthropy>.