• Care Ring

You Can Save Philanthropy


It’s the time of year when each day your mailbox overflows with unwanted holiday catalogs, bills from online retailers for holiday gifts you really can't afford, and family photos of cute cousins and endless tall tales of their amazing exploits during the last year.

In addition to these annual end-of-year letters, you will certainly also receive an army of appeals from nonprofits seeking a charitable donation. From housing to food shelters, college endowments to church capital campaigns, you will be inundated with requests to give.

Each of these requests will tug at a special place in your heart. Of course you don't want children to go a day without a healthy meal. Certainly you want your alma mater to build that new astronomy lab.

But how do you truly know your donation is making a difference? How can you gain confidence that your gift is not only helping to create stories of change and hope, but that your gift is leading to documented, evidenced-based outcomes?

Care Ring colleagues, leadership from the Urban Institute at UNC Charlotte, and other community nonprofit leaders came together for a recent screening of the documentary film, Saving Philanthropy.

Written and moderated by Kate Robinson, Saving Philanthropy describes how high-performing nonprofits across the country create and live their mission through a "managing to outcomes" framework.

By "managing to outcomes," Robinson reveals how America's most successful nonprofits set clear goals, relentlessly collect and analyze data on goal performance, and then assess and adjust operations based on the results.

Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) is featured prominently in Saving Philanthropy as an excellent illustration of a program that marries both personal testimony of impact with hard data on outcomes.

The NFP model takes nursing care into the homes of first time, low-income mothers. NFP delivers not only amazing stories of how lives are turned around, it has rigorous data that reveals extraordinary, long-term outcomes in reducing poverty in the families receiving NFP services.

Children in NFP programs consistently have better cognitive and vocabulary scores than children not receiving NFP support. NFP moms are much more likely to be employed by the time of their child’s 4thbirthday than moms who are not in NFP.

Saving Philanthropy shows how programs like NFP are at the forefront of enlightened and engaged philanthropy. Increasingly, philanthropists want to do more than just attend a fancy gala or have their name on a plaque in front of a shiny new building.

Individuals want to invest in organizations with strong financial health and reliable governance and accountability structures. But most importantly, donors want to know that their gift has made a difference.

Today's donors are looking for an outcomes-based organizational structure before they make a gift to a cause. They want to know that a nonprofit receiving their donation can not only spin a great tale about how they helped somebody. Donors also want to see the cold, hard outcomes-based data on how the nonprofit used their donation to make a tangible difference.

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