Indirect Service: How We Can Define and Share Our Wins

Problem Statement

Define and celebrate success indicators (and raise money) when your organization's mission is to support the people supporting the people, not to support the people directly.

Nonprofit folks need support, training, and infrastructures, and so other nonprofits exist to provide them. Defining and proving success for those organizations can be a challenge when the ultimate client outcomes are too far removed or too slow to really claim impact. Here are two examples from the education sphere:

  • An organization that supports middle and high school administrations, which then work with their teachers and staff to move students towards graduation and college enrollment
  • A professional development institute that trains college access advisors, who then support students to apply, enroll, persist, and earn degrees

Meanwhile, funding conversations and requests consistently focus on ultimate outcomes (for students in these examples), which may or may not be aligned with immediate client or site work and goals.

So how do we know we’re succeeding at the first part without having to wait years for outcomes we can’t then directly claim? How do we change the conversation to raise money for the work we are doing every day?

We will discuss the pros and cons of different approaches to this problem with perspectives and experiences from a variety of organizations representing  program staff, organizational leadership, evaluation professionals, and funders. We will look at different kinds of measures and tools—ways to know we’re on the right track even when the really shiny outcomes won’t arrive for years, or when our contact is not directly with those who would achieve those outcomes. These may include rubrics managing performance, theories of change models, logic models, value propositions, and more.

Identifying the process, implementation, and cultural successes you can count right away allows you to highlight them with current and potential funders, as well as with the community at large.

Amy Greenwood
Urban Assembly
Deputy Director of Research & Evaluation
Amy Greenwood is the Deputy Director of Research & Evaluation at the Urban Assembly, an NYC non-profit which founds and supports small, themed, public middle and high schools in high needs areas of the city. Amy’s team at Urban Assembly is responsible for generating the data and systems behind the school support work so that those who need it have the right data at the right time in order to do the most impactful work. Prior to joining the Urban Assembly in May 2015, Amy worked for over 10 years with the Options Center at Goddard Riverside Community Center, a program providing college access & success counseling to students and professional development to college counselors and advisors. Amy also sat on the advisory board that developed, a resource for New Yorkers with questions about college. She earned a Psychology B.A. from Wesleyan University and a Certificate in American Sign Language Interpretation from CUNY LaGuardia Community College.

Kai Williams
Executive Director
Kai Williams is Executive Director of The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC). She has managed the organization since February of 2010, growing membership by 150% and increasing course reach globally. Prior to working with IWRC Kai worked as an environmental educator and then in corporate process management at Symantec. She has a Masters degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. She can be found occasionally on twitter as @MalkahKai

Veena Pankaj
Innovation Network, Inc. (InnoNet)
Ms. Pankaj is the Director of Innovation Network, Inc., and has over a decade of experience navigating organizations through the evaluation design and implementation process. She leads many of the organization’s consulting and research projects and works closely with foundations and nonprofits to answer questions around program design, implementation, and impact. Ms. Pankaj has managed evaluation and strategy consulting projects with clients such as the Kansas Health Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She has a wide range of evaluation expertise including mixed methods evaluation, advocacy evaluation, and participatory analysis. Ms. Pankaj completed a Certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown University, and has received a B.A. in Sociology from University of Virginia, and an M.A. in Social Sciences from University of Chicago.

Elizabeth Kelly
Urban Assembly
Director of Research and Evaluation

Dana Taplin
Director of Theory of Change Online