How do you Measure Success?
How do you define and measure success in a social impact organization?
Many not-for-profits rely at least partially on revenues from the clients who are served in order to carry out their business model and realize their mission.
Think of the folks endlessly stair-climbing for a fee at the non-profit YMCA or the college tuition you are sending to the non-profit university your son started attending.
Agencies like the Y and many institutions of higher learning and many non-profits like Care Ring must receive some income through participant contributions in order to maintain services.
At Care Ring we ask participants to pay a small fee to receive health care treatment – we have made a decision that in most cases we want those who seek our help to have some skin in the game. The actual cost of providing care in our clinic to each patient is much greater than this small personal investment, but the patient contribution not only cements a partnership and long-term relationship between us and the patient, it is also a critically important part of our revenue source to support our business model.
Last week our Care Ring clinic had its “best” week ever, if you analyze our performance solely from a revenue perspective. We raised more in patient contributions toward their care in one week than the clinic has ever received.
So while the green eyeshade accountant buried way deep in me is cutting back-flips with enthusiasm, another part of me is more reserved.
More revenues means more people are seeking us out, which suggests there is an increasing need in our community for access to care.
We recently expanded our clinic space, and have begun asking our providers and clinic staff to step forward and accommodate an increased demand.
Our clinic is especially helpful for the working poor. We are a high-quality, affordable access point for those with limited incomes and few options for care. In most cases, nearly all of the folks we serve earn less than $12,000 a year.
So I am delighted from a business perspective to review reports on increasing revenues through our clinic.
But that means there continues to be a huge need for our services. It suggests there are many individuals who have not been able to find or afford insurance through the new marketplaces. It suggests there are many who are living in the shadows in our community, unable to legally purchase subsidized insurance due to their immigration status, and so either quietly suffering when they get sick or finding a low-cost clinic like ours as a last resort.
This suggests our work at Care Ring is now more important than ever to support those with limited resources looking to establish and maintain good health.
I am “happy” – from a purely numbers-crunching cost-effectiveness perspective – that business is up in our clinic. But a real celebration will occur when I know that everyone in Mecklenburg County has ready access to affordable, high-quality health care.