Posted by & filed under Board of Directors, Leadership/Management, Major/Planned Gifts, Marketing/Communications.

Amy Eisenstein, MPA, ACFRE

Consultant, Tri Point Fundraising 

Are you as happy as you could be at work? Do you have good work habits? Think of how much more you could accomplish (and raise) if you adopt a few proven strategies to not only to survive, but to thrive at your organization.

photo credit: Mykl Roventine via photopin cc

.         photo credit: Mykl Roventine

Two Key Strategies

There are two strategies that will help you lead a happier life AND excel at raising major gifts. Two birds with one stone.

  1. Think Happy Thoughts
  2. Build Better Habits

.Happiness, Habits, and Major Gift Fundraising, one of my sessions at Congress, covers these key strategies.

1. Think Happy Thoughts

It has been well documented that meaningful work, happiness, and productivity are all interconnected. In other words — if you’re doing meaningful work you’ll be happier, and if you’re happier you’ll be more productive. But as you know — perhaps even from your current job — sometimes even the most meaningful work can be stressful, tedious, and discouraging.

The good news for us is that a study called the Happiness at Work Survey showed that people who work in caregiving or direct service are 75% more likely to be happy. That includes a lot of people in the nonprofit sector. Of course, as fundraisers, we’re not always on the front lines, but we’re pretty close. So how can we change to make ourselves as happy as the people on the front lines?

  • It starts with positive thinking

I am a true believer in the power of positive thinking. If you think you can, you can. I assure you, this is not a case of “wishful thinking” — there’s actually science behind it. So, what if when we’re asking for a major gift, we expect the best, instead of assuming the worst? How might you act differently if you expected the very best?

  • Happier people are more generous

Another reason to “Think Happy Thoughts” is that happy people give more to charity. That’s pretty important information for you to have as a fundraiser. Harvard Business School produced a working paper called Feeling Good About Giving, which showed: “Happier people give more and giving makes people happier.” Incredible! The more you give, the happier you are, and the happier you are, the more you give. How awesome is that? And doesn’t it make sense that happy people would want to be around other happy people? So if you’re happy, it’s more likely that your donors will want to be around you. That’s pretty important for major gift fundraising.

2. Build Better Habits

According to current research, in order to break an old habit and create a new one, you need to find a reward to help you feel happy about whatever you’re trying to create as your new habit.

  • Make a habit of meeting with donors

One of the bad habits many development directors have is working from their desks, instead of being out, meeting with donors. How can you have relationships with your donors from behind your desk? You may feel stuck at your desk and overwhelmed with work. But being stuck at your desk is only a habit or work pattern — and it can be broken. Once your make getting out and meeting with donors on a regular basis a top priority — that will become your habit. It’s not easy, but the long-term payoff is huge.

  • Properly train your board members

Another bad habit your organization may have is recruiting and training board members without any expectation of fundraising. It’s something I run into all the time. It makes me sad when board members haven’t been recruited properly or trained, and then are expected to raise funds. So if one of your organization’s bad habits is recruiting board members without the expectation of fundraising, or not providing your board members with ongoing fundraising training, I strongly encourage you to replace your bad habits. Change the culture of your board and organization by starting to recruit and train your board members properly. Download this board member expectation form from my website.

  • Reinforcing your good habits

As I mentioned, in order to eliminate bad habits and reinforce good habits you need to reward yourself. So, after you get out and meet with your donors or recruit a new board member with a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities, what can you do to reward yourself and reinforce the new habit? It doesn’t have to be big: It can be a walk around the block, listening to your favorite song or even dancing around the office. Of course, we’ll go into much more depth at Congress, so I hope to see you there.

You’ll find more super-useful tips for becoming a better fundraiser and building a better board in my complementary eBooks Simple Things You’re NOT Doing to Raise More Money and 6 Essential Secrets for Board Retreats that Work.

Best wishes for your fundraising success!

Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, is a respected author, speaker, and fundraising consultant, as well as the owner of Tri Point Fundraising, a full-service nonprofit consulting firm. Her specialty is simplifying the fundraising process for her followers and clients. She will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

Posted by & filed under Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Siobhan Aspinall, CFRE
Senior Manager, Major Gifts, Junior Achievement of British Columbia

At Congress this year, I’m going to talk about involving non-fundraising staff in donor stewardship. You’d be crazy not to! So let’s think about who to take on that next donor visit and how to make them successful.

In the past, I was guilty of defaulting to the chiefs. I’d automatically bring along a board member, maybe even the chair or my CEO.

But if donor stewardship is about showing people the impact of their gift, then why not go straight to the source and bring along a person who actually delivers your programs? They might not be as polished as the CEO, but I bet they’ll be more interesting – mainly because they are so much closer to the work.

Don’t get me wrong – I know this approach can backfire. There’s maybe a very good reason that we don’t often invite the programs team along for sensitive visits as you can’t possibly prep them for every question or comment that might come up. However, I think it’s worthwhile to try. Start with these tips to set up your colleague for success on a donor visit:

  1. Book your program colleague for an informal briefing a couple
    of days before the donor meeting.12177981144_bd277b7ea4
  2. Tell them about the donor – how much they’ve given, what their interests are, and above all, what kind of personality they have.
  3. Emphasize more than once that the visit is informal and that we’re not going to ask for money.
  4. Do a bit of a role play. The fundraiser should start, as she has the relationship. Then let the donor talk, then cue up the program person.
  5. Have a signal for your colleague to let them know when they’ve said enough on a given topic. Let them know this is
    necessary because it is SO important to let the donor talk too. (I had a system with one scientist where I’d put my pen down on the table. He stopped so abruptly the first time we did it, it was like someone had punched him in the neck. We improved over time!)
  6. Figure out a “leave.” What’s the follow up we will offer when we close the meeting? An advance look at a pending report? A promise to send along an event invitation? Make sure it’s never just “goodbye.”
  7. Write a thank you for your program colleague to send from her email address (with you cc’ed) encouraging the donor to get in touch directly with any questions or comments. This creates a nice value add where you’re giving your best supporters exclusive access to the change-makers of the organization.

And don’t forget to tell your colleagues why this is so important. At the end of it all, we are looking to secure more funds for their work!
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Siobhan has been fundraising for over 15 years for organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, the David Suzuki Foundation and United Way. She is currently the Senior Manager of Development at Junior Achievement working primarily in grant-writing and major gifts. She teaches fundraising courses at BCIT, consults, and is a board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She holds a BA in from UBC and an Associate Certificate in Fundraising Management from BCIT. She writes for her fundraising blog at siobhanaspinall.com and surfs in Tofino. Siobhan will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

Posted by & filed under Case Study, Leadership/Management, Major/Planned Gifts, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Karen Willson, CFRE, Senior VP & Partner, KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) 

Heather Hurst, President & CEO, Humber River Hospital Foundation

Yes, this was the situation for Humber River Hospital, when the Campaign started in 2011. Heather and I have been ‘joined at the hip’ to create the winning strategy and have been continually adapting our planning as the Campaign progress.

Due to the magnitude of the new hospital initiative, the private sector goal was pre-established as $225 Million. At KCI, we are aware that Hospital Foundations are being put in the challenging position of having to strive for larger and larger goals based on project costs, rather than on  their own readiness in relation to such factors as strength of their prospect base, availability of volunteers, clarity of case, etc. This intensifies the pressure between the Hospitals and their Foundations. The Hospitals require the flow of funds at certain dates, yet the Foundations’ are dependent on the ability of their volunteers to reach out to philanthropists and, the decision-making process of their donors. KCI is seeing this as a common trend in the Hospital sector (see Philanthropic Trends for more information).

              photo credit: Rusty Russ via photopin cc

Due to the strength of the Case i.e.: 1) the first hospital to be built in Ontario in 25 years; 2) the level of technology that would be incorporated to improve healthcare; and 3) the attention on the patient experience, with the support of my Foundation Board – we rose to this challenge. Karen and I knew we were working with a team of committed volunteer leaders, had secured a $10 Million lead gift and had an exciting case. The new hospital would definitely be ‘revolutionizing healthcare’ in this Province.

We created a traditional gift range chart with a lead gift of $50 Million, built our Top 100 prospect list, recruited our volunteers and marched forward with a sense of enthusiasm and optimism.

A new donor stepped up to support his physician and was so thrilled that the new hospital would be putting Humber River on the map that he joined our campaign cabinet. The Italian community is coming together with group gifts that they hope will inspire others to give. Hospital front-line staff have come forward to donate because they know they will be making a difference to patient care… in fact Environmental Services at all three sites have a 100% donation record!

Our team of Foundation staff is 20 strong. We have divided the Campaign activity into a number of pillars (Catchment Area, Downtown Core, Family Campaign, etc.) and have aligned our team members (both staff and volunteers) to these particular areas. Our goal in aligning staff in this manner is to make sure that the team not only feels a sense of accomplishment but, has fun along the way.

Advice to our colleagues in leading campaigns where a goal is pre-determined is as follows:

  • Set the course of action with the Hospital Leadership and Hospital Board being actively involved
  • Do not assume that the Hospital’s Leadership understands how the fundraising process works….educate, educate and educate
  • Set up regular communications lines between the Hospital and Foundation. We hold quarterly meetings with the Chair of the Hospital Board, Hospital CEO and Chair of Foundation Board (with both of us)
  • Be sympathetic and understanding of the pressures of Hospital leadership as they work to complete this project ‘on budget and on time’.

We are now closing in on $70 Million and have extensive call activity in the pipeline.  When the doors open in October 2015, this Foundation will have taken every step to help the hospital in securing the $225 Million needed.

We will keep you posted on our progress!

KWAs Senior Vice President at KCI, Karen Willson provides strategic direction and project supervision to her clients. This high level of professionalism and expertise was evident in her supervision of the University of Waterloo’s $260 million capital campaign, which exceeded its goal by $353 million. Karen recently worked with Habitat for Humanity Canada, and is currently providing counsel to Humber River Hospital, Women’s College Hospital, Camp Oochigeas and the Elizabeth Fry Society.

HHHeather Hurst has been in the nonprofit sector for 25 years. Heather is now the President and CEO of the Humber River Hospital Foundation and is responsible for the planning and execution of the $225M Capital Campaign for HRH’s new digital hospital. Prior to joining HRH in 2011, Heather was the President and CEO for 7 years at West Park Healthcare Centre and Vice-President of Development and Campaign Director at St. Michaels Hospital Foundation for over 6 years.

 

Posted by & filed under Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy.

Adam Lowy, Executive Director, Move For Hunger

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of creating real change. Nonprofit organizations talk about this quite a bit when they’re communicating with donors and foundations. You see it all the time in social media posts and fancy marketing pieces. But what does this really mean? Are we, as non-profit organizations, actually fixing problems, or are we just raising awareness that change needs to happen?

When I founded Move For Hunger five years ago, I really didn’t know much about the non-profit space. I didn’t even know anything about hunger – the problem I was trying to affect. Rather than start with a cause, we were able to work backwards with the solution.

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        .photo credit: SomeDriftwood

My family has owned a moving company for over 90 years. After years of seeing non-perishable food get thrown away when people moved, we decided to ask people to donate their food during their moves. Our moving company was in the home anyway, so it really didn’t create any extra work. The food bank was just a few miles away. It just kind of made sense. Customers LOVED it! And why wouldn’t they? People want to work with companies that give back to the community. Companies are always looking for new ways to connect with customers. Add in the donation of food to local food banks and we’ve created a win – win – win!

We’ve since grown to mobilize over 600 moving companies across the US to deliver over 3.5 million pounds of food to our nation’s food banks and pantries; this is enough to provide over 3 million meals to individuals in need. With over 50 million Americans struggling with hunger, our work is only just getting started.

As Move For Hunger continues to grow, I find myself thinking about what we are really doing here. The real problem we are tackling is food waste. 40% of all food is wasted. The simple idea of rescuing food when people move is actually quite powerful when you scale it throughout an entire industry across an entire continent.  We are literally changing the business processes of hundreds of small businesses and mobilizing them for a common cause. By creating a process that both moving companies and consumers want to participate in, we can guarantee its sustainability for generations to come.

If our goal, as nonprofit organizations, is actually to fix problems, then we need to begin to think more about process oriented solutions. We need more collaboration with our for-profit counterparts. We need to mobilize existing resources in a way that doesn’t detract from the bottom line. Companies won’t cut charitable initiatives that are helping increase profits.

In order to actually solve so many of the major problems our world is facing, we need to think less about our brand and our donors, and more about the sustainability and impact of the programs we put in place. If Move For Hunger was to shut its doors tomorrow, there would be hundreds of moving companies rescuing food and delivering it to those in need. If we are able to create an industry standard, then there is no need for our organization to exist, and we can move on to the next problem to be solved.

I am encouraged by the innovation I have seen in the nonprofit space over the past few years, and challenge some of our nation’s leading charitable institutions to take a step back and ask the question: Is the work we do actually fixing a problem or merely providing a short term solution? Though both create value, only one creates real change.

Adam Headshot (2)After seeing so much food go to waste, Adam launched Move For Hunger to mobilize relocation companies to rescue food during the move. Adam was included among Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2014 and proudly represents the NYC Hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. In 2011 he became a Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellow and was honored at the VH1 Do Something Awards and NBC American Giving Awards.

Posted by & filed under Board of Directors, Career Development, Ethics, Financial/Legal, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy.

by AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Ethics Committee

De-stigmatization – An Odd Lesson for Ethics

There is a lot we can learn from various de-stigmatization initiatives that have captured the public’s attention of late. Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Campaign for mental health is a shining example. Decades ago people were too ashamed to talk about depression or anxiety, and now it is commonplace to understand and appreciate that nearly one quarter of the entire workforce have a mental health struggle.

In an odd way, we need to de-stigmatize talking about ethics in fundraising and the charitable sector. People often have one of two reactions: It is either, “… our organization’s ethics are fine; it’s everyone else that has a problem,” or “… ethics? We don’t have the time or resources to worry about ethics.”

photo credit: vanhookc via photopin cc
photo credit: vanhookc

Talk About Ethics

Just like mental health, a bit of knowledge is a powerful thing. When you know what ethics actually are, the causes and symptoms of healthy (and unhealthy) ethics, and how to sustain balanced personal and organizational ethics, you have the ability to diagnose and remedy problems. Better yet, you are able to create and sustain operational excellence, increase and deepen your relationships, and be a leader for your donors and volunteers, who deserve your utmost respect.

The first place to start is to talk about ethics – to put ethics on your personal and organizational radar. One of the best places to begin is to acknowledge what you know and just as importantly what you don’t know. Ethics relates to governance matters such as a board’s fiscal responsibilities or care of duty for staff. Strategically, ethics relates to fundamental fundraising practices such as the integrity of your case for support. Ethics on an operational level can be about the information you use and share when it comes to determining a potential donor’s ability to give. Personally, ethics can even be about the level of information you share about a donor with whom you have worked during a job interview, and if you promise to “deliver” said donor to demonstrate your fundraising prowess.

At its core, ethics is all about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand where they are coming from – good, bad or indifferent. It is through the sharing of each other’s stories that we discover solutions to differences in values and ethical conundrums. Again, the key is to talk, to engage, and to do what’s right – together.

Share Your Story, and Help Build the Ethics Library

To that end, the Ethics Resources Committee of Greater Toronto is promoting AFP’s growing library of ethics case studies. These are reality-based overviews of ethical situations that executives in the charitable sector have faced and managed successfully. They are fascinating. The case studies are also excellent learning tools and are available for download.

The Committee has created a new case study template to chronicle new examples of challenging ethical situations. We invite you to share one of your stories anonymously so that others can learn and continue to understand best practices, and apply them as the highest level fundraising practitioner. When you talk and share, you and your organization succeed. Best of all, donors and volunteers will be moved to give and continue giving because they know at a fundamental level they can trust.

Please fill out the case study submission form to either suggest a new case study not already covered, or to submit your own case study example.

It’s a Big Deal

Chances are that whatever ethics challenge or success you have faced or are facing, someone else is in the exact same boat. One story at a time, we give staff and volunteer leaders the ability to make their charity and fundraising everything they can be.

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Leadership/Management.

Maeve Strathy

It’s the summer. We’re all staring longingly out our office windows (if we’re lucky enough to have them), wondering why on earth we’re stuck inside working when we could be enjoying the sun, the fresh air, and this brief period of time in Canada where we don’t need a jacket or coat of any sort. Prospects aren’t returning our calls or emails, our colleagues are all taking turns going on vacations, and it’s hard to find the motivation to get back to the work in front of us.

I’ve had a few of these moments lately myself. Despite the lack oSummerKitef motivation, summer is an important time for planning and preparing for the new fundraising year. It’s during these quieter months at work that we have the rare opportunity to sit and think; analyze what worked this past year, strategize about what we need to change, plan out our mailings, and firm up our stewardship processes. It all sounds well and good, but there’s one problem…

I just can’t find the inspiration! Where is that passion I had for my job a few months ago? So naturally I turned to Facebook and asked my friends, what do you do in this situation? How do you motivate yourself?

One of my very wise friends said, “I have stuff on my wall in my office to remind me of the outcomes of my work.” Brilliant! And then I turned and saw a card on my desk that I received from an alumna of the institution who was selected this year for our annual Philanthropy Award. She wrote me to thank me for my help in preparing her for the event that honoured her. She wanted to thank me! She has a great philanthropic story to tell; she’s never given more than $350 in any given year, but she’s given to the university every single year since she graduated. Every year!

Even better, her gifts have been designated annually to pretty much wherever the funds were needed most. In many cases she’s directed her gift to our unrestricted fund, giving the university the flexibility to respond to unforeseen emergencies or even worthwhile opportunities. She’s given to the library many times, too! Her gifts directly impact students, and that’s what I’m here for in the first place.

Speaking of students, next to the card on my desk is a photo of a student and a donor. This donor created a financial assistance opportunity at the university in memory of his deceased son. I had the opportunity to set up a meeting between the donor and this year’s recipient of his award which gave the donor the chance to truly see the impact of his philanthropy. The student expressed – eloquently, I might add – his gratitude to the donor, and he shared what he plans to do with his life after university. It was so rewarding to witness a donor seeing the effect his generosity has on an actual student.

All of us fundraisers, wherever we work, are here to raise money to make an impact. The outcomes of our work are clear; we are so lucky in that sense. Other professionals out there might struggle to see the point sometimes, but fundraising professionals know exactly what they’re here to do, and we have lots of examples that can motivate us through even the sunniest of days.

Maeve is the FounderMaeve Strathy of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years. Learn more about Maeve and connect with Maeve via: Twitter | LinkedIn | Email | Web

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion.

Alan Clayton – Director, Clayton Burnett Ltd; Chairman, Revolutionise Global; Chairman, Grove Practice; Managing Partner, Inch Hotel and Inspiration Centre

Last week, I had the honour and pleasure of addressing the Young Nonprofit Professionals, Toronto. Young and professional they certainly were but, as I was preparing and then delivering my thoughts, something struck me. The majority of the audience worked in fundraising. Not all, but the audience was definitely fundraiser heavy, perhaps due to the topic, perhaps due to the influence of the sponsor – Stephen Thomas.

This really set me thinking. The term ‘nonprofit’ is used to describe the entire sector we work in – predominantly in North America, but increasingly in Europe as well. In context, this suddenly seemed an apologetic, inappropriate and perhaps even self-defeating term. The European ‘Third sector’ is scarcely any better. You see, the primary purpose and skill of most people in the room was the ability to generate profits… significantly large profits and at a very impressive margin compared to other sectors. The rest of the room were employed in spending said profits.

I had a realisation. We are the only sector which seeks to define itself by what we don’t do. Even more contradictory, we define ourselves by something we don’t do (nonprofit) but we do in fact actually do it. We invest reserves and revenue and we generate huge returns on these investments – up to twelve times greater than returns achieved by professional investors, in fact.

The difference in our sector is not the profits we make, but the way we choose to spend those profits. Profits with purpose, if you like. Is it any wonder we come in for ridiculous criticism (CEO salaries, ROI ratios, admin costs and even ~gasp~ paid fundraisers) if we ourselves start from such a negative and defensive position as ‘nonprofit’?

We should define ourselves by what we do… that is, how we spend the profits we make. That way we start from a positive hypothesis and can better explain our purpose to questioners and detractors. Even better, we will come to be proud of what we do.

Perhaps we could be the ‘For change sector’, the ‘Social purpose sector’ or even ‘The brilliant way to invest your money and get massive relative returns which make the world a better place sector.’

I am sure you can do better than that. Perhaps AFP could start a competition to find a better term? Suggestions welcome…

Alan Clayton

Alan Clayton is one of the leading consultants, creative directors and inspirational speakers on the world circuit, currently based in the UK, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Alan created charity marketing agency Cascaid in the UK in 1998 following a career working in-house in charity marketing. He ran Cascaid until 2008, when it merged to form The Good Agency. Alan has worked with over 250 nonprofit clients in the UK and around the world. 

Posted by & filed under Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Networking, Next Generation Philanthropy, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Colin Hennigar, Associate Director, SickKids Foundation 

How do you engage a group of young professional major gift donors? Listen to them.

Fundraisers are frequently challenged to grow their pipeline to secure major gifts, often with the expectation of a donation to be confirmed over a year or two. But what happens when you invest in laying the seeds of philanthropy in the next generation? Results.

When we asked what is important for young professionals who make a donation, over and above purchasing an event ticket, we directly heard that they want a tangible impact, exclusivity, and networking opportunities. Solicitations for unrestricted funds don’t often appeal to this group – they want to know how their donation will make an impact. They want to meet the experts who will use their donation. They also want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to look around the room and see like-minded philanthropists who are all at the same stage in life and have rallied together to make a difference. They want to share their involvement with their peers and get them engaged as well. We see this in donors who come together to build a house or school or participate in a team fundraising event, but now we’re starting to see it in major gifts programs.

What we’re doing at SickKids Foundation is challenging young professionals to think big – to make an investment through a program that will see them surrounded by their peers, that will give them access to the organization’s leadership, and that will allow them to make a collective impact. The result of listening to this demographic is SickKids Innovators which saw 20 individuals invest $100,000 in an underfunded priority of the hospital last year.

Access to the hospital’s leadership and exclusive experiences isn’t free. In terms of stewarding this group of young professional donors, we do have to bend the rules or adapt the conventional donor matrix to develop meaningful events and opportunities. What we have to keep in mind is that we listen to what will engage this group. As they progress in their careers, with the philanthropic seeds planted, their involvement can expand to additional gifts through cause marketing campaigns or third party events enhancing their commitment to the organization.

Today, fundraisers need to adapt our traditional ways of engaging donors, especially as we work with groups of like-minded philanthropists, such as young professionals. What we need to do is listen, create, engage and then wait patiently for the results, if not today, then definitely tomorrow.

Colin Hennigar is an Associate Director on the Major Gifts Team at SickKids Foundation. Prior to joining SickKids Foundation in 2010, Colin held a number of roles at the Royal Ontario Museum Governors Office. Colin graduated from the University of Toronto with a Double Major in Fine Art History and Classical Civilizations and a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies. He will be speaking at Fundraising Day 2014 on May 28th in Toronto. You can follow Colin on Twitter @travellercolin 

Posted by & filed under Leadership/Management, Metrics.

Brian Emmett, Chief Economist, Imagine Canada

Results definition and management are hot topics these days, given additional attention by the recent decision of the Hewlett Foundation to cease funding “groups that provide research on philanthropic strategies that produce measurable results.” (Hewlett Ends Effort to Get Donors to Make Dispassionate Choices on Giving) Amidst the wide and understandable debate about the Hewlett decision, some of the fundamentals at stake are at risk of drifting into a distant mist.

As Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in the Government of Canada, I was impressed with the auditor’s motto: “What gets measured gets done”. This struck me as a simple but profound management insight. It was a neat explanation of why environmental values – so important to Canadians in general – were routinely neglected in government and private decision making. The underlying causes were measurement and management; that is, these values were often intangible and difficult to measure and to incorporate in management frameworks.

Measure more, measure better

It followed that one key way to improve performance in this area was not to make ever more sincere promises about doing better, but to turn to the difficult and demanding process of developing stronger measures of environmental quality. This would lead to better management and decisions that produce the results Canadians value. Conversely, measuring less or measuring badly would lead to approaches that were at best inefficient and at worst counterproductive. Now that I am working as Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable and Nonprofit Sector, I find these insights equally applicable to many social programs with their hard to measure objectives such as equity and justice.

The emphasis on results definition and management is now widespread in government where some of the best work on developing results is being done and where results-based approaches are being used in the design and development of a wide range of government programs. This insight underlies the movement to create social investment partnerships between government, charities and the private sector where it is thought a major benefit would be the access to private sector experience with innovative metrics and management. It is an insight which appeals directly to a younger generation of potential donors who have grown up in the metrically oriented knowledge economy.

Stronger focus on metrics generationally driven?

Leaving aside the thorny question of whether existing donors respond to measurement of results, metrics will become more important over time. First, all of we (charities, government and private sector) are being relentlessly pressured to be more efficient and effective and to manage a wider range of social, environmental and economic issues. Better metrics are an important tool – a necessary but not sufficient condition – for making the improvements that society is demanding. Second, we have to be aware of today’s and tomorrow’s donors. I haven’t noticed that the younger generation is any less committed to social and charitable issues than is my boomer cohort. However, they are a lot more accustomed to using metrics when making decisions.

An emphasis on results is a win/win. Measurement can lead to better management and more impact per charitable dollar and appeal to a new more metrically oriented generation. The bottom line is that the results movement is here to stay – and to grow.

Mr. Emmett is an economics graduate of the University of Western Ontario and the University of Essex in England. He was Canada’s first Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in the late 1990s. He also served as Vice-President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in the early 2000s and has been an Assistant Deputy Minister in a number of federal government departments. He will be participating in the Plenary Panel at Fundraising Day 2014 on May 28th in Toronto.
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