Apply Impact Management Best Practices

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain why now is a great time for humanitarian organizations to embrace Impact Management practices.
  • Discuss ways to apply Impact Management practices to humanitarian INGOs.

The Time is Now

Remember the example we shared in Unit 1 of how a humanitarian INGO might rely on organized data to better respond when disaster strikes? Timing is everything—and any opportunities to use time more efficiently can reap exponential rewards.

It's especially important when considering high-level decisions that can steer your organization toward lasting, long-term change. And, there’s never been a better time than now to put Impact Management practices to work for your own organization. After all, it’s a discussion that many of the world’s leading aid providers and donors are already having!

Humanitarian aid workers distributing and recording supply delivery

Too Important to Fail

The Grand Bargain, an agreement between some of the world’s largest donors and aid providers, was proposed by the former United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing in its report “Too Important to Fail: addressing the humanitarian financing gap.” The Grand Bargain proposed rethinking the relationship between donors and aid organizations to consider the value of results-driven data for donors.

With discussions like these taking place at the UN level, it makes sense for organizations like your own to be prepared for new perspectives on what an ideal donor-provider relationship looks like. Even if you're not ready to embrace the value of results-driven data, there's a good chance your donors will be. Ultimately, as donors increasingly see value in data, they’ll be more likely to shift their support to organizations that are better enabled to provide that data.

To put it simply, the time for transformation is now—and the Salesforce platform, Nonprofit Cloud, and third-party apps are designed to enable the transformation that humanitarian INGOs need to not only survive but thrive, as well.

Tactics for Impact Management

Now that you understand the benefits of Impact Management, let’s take a look at how to apply tactics for Impact Management to your specific organization. Where to begin?

For many humanitarian INGOs, investment in digital tools will be the first step. These are the tools which allow for thorough data collection, and that enable the reporting your donors and fellow stakeholders will rely on to make better-informed decisions.

Impact as Core to Strategy 

Understanding the importance of impact as core to strategy is crucial—not just for you and other humanitarian INGO stakeholders, but for donors and those you serve, as well. Consider your own organization’s impact: Are strategy and outcomes communicated clearly? In times of crisis and disaster, are you able to provide the agencies or individuals calling on you for help with a 360-degree understanding of what services you can provide, and how quickly?

Evidence-Based Decision-Making

The essence of evidence-based decision-making is this: Data reveals where your strategies routinely fall short of their potential, enabling you to make decisions to course correct. The Nonprofit Trends Report defines digital maturity as “an organization’s ability to leverage data to inform decision-making, reach new audiences, personalize communications, and forecast fundraising.” A key aspect of that definition for Impact Management is that success depends on evidence-based decision-making. Paradoxically, the high stakes of crisis situations call for quick and solid decisions, yet humanitarian organizations face enormous barriers to obtaining the data needed to make decisions in a timely way. 

Continuous Evidence Building

Humanitarian INGOs committed to continuous evidence building understand that collecting data—the information that will transform how your mission is delivered—should be an ongoing process. Impact Management employs several key tools for evidence building, outlined below. 

Identify Theory of Change

What is your organization’s vision for the future, and how does it intend to reach that goal?

Create Learning Agenda

What are the questions that will guide your organization's evidence-building strategy and activities?

Determine Data Collection Plan

How do you plan to collect the information needed for better decisions, and how frequently will it be collected?

Integrated Financial Management

It’s not just activity data that’s valuable; you also want to keep an eye on finance data (funds coming in, as well as those going out) to demonstrate efficient management. Think about how closely revenue affects your humanitarian INGO’s attitude toward mission. Do you pursue opportunities for revenue if they don’t closely align with your plans for impact?

Integrated financial management enables stakeholders like you to keep a closer eye on key financial resources, to use them more efficiently, and to free up more time for doing what brought you to the organization in the first place. 

Participant-Centered Program Management

The nature of your work at a humanitarian INGO sometimes makes it difficult to connect with the individuals you’re serving: With physical resources and time itself in short supply, post-crisis feedback can be a crucial missing link in the data collection process. How can technology help? By leveraging digital tools, humanitarian INGOs can capture that elusive feedback data and apply it to future use of resources. 

Last—but certainly not least—is the matter of participant data security. We know that data collection sometimes gets a bad rap, with breaches and technical glitches lending themselves to cautious hesitation when it comes to adopting or fully embracing technology. Humanitarian INGOs making the best use of technology will do so with data security, privacy, personal rights, civil liberties, freedoms, and human dignity at the heart of their data collection.

Now that we’ve covered best practices for Impact Management, and how they apply specifically to the humanitarian INGO sector, let’s take a look at how you can get started with Impact Management for humanitarian relief.


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