13 Jul How to Create Effective Change and Measure It – Meet Open Roots Consulting
Have you joined Interconnected Strategy’s meetup group yet? Our next meeting is on Wednesday July 26th and we’ll meet Dan Fink and Amanda Morita, cofounders of Open Roots Consulting. Dan and Amanda will talk about How to Create Effective Change and Measure It. This workshop is already almost full, so RSVP right away if you plan on coming!
Aurora Meneghello: What inspired you to create Open Roots Consulting?
Dan Fink and Amanda Morita: After years of education and work in non-profit organizations it became clear to us that there are countless amazing people, groups, and agencies with immense passion for their work, but a lack of tools, structure, and resources to accomplish their goals. We are inspired by everyone we have met and worked with, so we want to support these visionaries to have the impact they are reaching for.
Aurora: What are some examples of grass roots social change projects people could work with you to accomplish?
Dan and Amanda: We can help you accomplish anything you’re passionate about, by helping to identify and develop the crucial parts of your project. Here are just a few examples of things we have worked on:
•Workshop Development (e.g. parenting special needs children, training caregivers in empathetic responses, independent living skills for foster youth, financial literacy for teenagers, etc.).
•Project Development (e.g. tutoring for students in low income areas, volunteer groups for teens, protesting social injustice, growing a community garden, organizing a community art project, etc.).
•Program Development (e.g. creating a time bank for senior citizens living in assisted living centers, creating a food cost sharing program for seniors living on a limited budget, creating an afterschool program for children in your community, etc.).
Aurora: How do you work with groups and organizations?
Dan and Amanda: Our work with groups and organizations starts with getting to know who we’re working with. We focus on what they are trying to accomplish, the impact they want to have, and what they have tried thus far. With this information, we can comfortably start to plan how to implement the vision, mission, and goals of the group we’re working with. It is our goal to guide groups and organizations through this process, not only so they successfully reach their goals, but also so they are equipped to do it for themselves moving forward.
Aurora: Why is it important to measure impact?
Dan and Amanda: The more we know about the impact a program or project has in the world, specifically on the thing they are aiming to ameliorate, the easier it is to make decisions about how we move forward. Impact is more than just knowing how many people are reached or how many lives are touched. Impact is also about the stories of change that are happening as the result of the work being done. Documented, measureable impacts are also very effective for obtaining funding.
Aurora: Based on your experience working with nonprofits, what are some of the reasons why organizations struggle with measuring their impact?
Dan and Amanda: Many of us who have started organizations or work in them know what we want to do and may even know how we want to accomplish it. Unfortunately, we usually aren’t thinking about how we’ll measure impact when we begin our projects. We’re passionate and excited, but don’t really start to think about impact until we’re halfway through something and want to know how we’re doing. By then, the data isn’t truly representative of the whole project. It’s just a snapshot of the current work and doesn’t tell us the full story of our impact.
Aurora: What are one or two things anyone can do right now to make their project or organization more successful?
Dan and Amanda: The most important thing someone can do before starting a social change project is to investigate all possible impacts, not just the intended impact, and talk to all of the folks that will feel that impact. You want to know what people want, what they are worried about, what changes will be supported, what will be sustainable, and what is actually not a shared vision for the impact of your work. For example, you may by passionate about offering tutoring to underserved children, but if the children and families are not going to show up or make use of your offering, it won’t be successful. Talk to your target audience and truly listen to what they are saying they need.
Another important part of starting a project that will be successful is thoroughly identifying all the resources you HAVE and all the resources you NEED. Doing this in the beginning stages of a project gives you a good foundation for seeking out what you need.
Remember, resources aren’t just tangible things, like offices or supplies. Resources can be friends and family, the park down the street from you, an empty garage, that box of random multi-color marbles on your book shelf, those unused mailing labels that weren’t the right size so you just left them in a desk drawer, your neighbor who happens to be an accountant or web designer, etc.