Outcomes & Social Investing: Key Themes for Funders

November 5, 2015 Rachel Hutchisson

This article was originally published on npENGAGE.


I’m completely energized.

Being around my peers in giving just does that to me.  And that’s the experience I had last week in Austin, TX, attending the MicroEdge Solutions Conference.

I do admit to being pulled in a few directions.  With MicroEdge now a part of Blackbaud, there were two conferences going on at the same time.  This was my 16th bbcon, and as the person who helps everyone at Blackbaud make sure we do good in the world every day, I wanted to soak up as much of that event as possible.  But the pull to be down the street with my fellow Corporate Social Responsibility and foundation colleagues was just too strong.

So I split my time, and the result was a whole lot of knowledge, connections and inspiration, particularly focused around this expanded ecosystem of good Blackbaud is serving – individuals, nonprofits, funders and corporates.  And on that foundation and corporate side, here are some of the themes that resonated with me:

  • Funders are shifting from making grants to making social investments – Although this isn’t a new idea, the energy around this theme reached a new level, particularly as it related to the new outcomes offering Blackbaud (in MicroEdge GIFTS Online) is launching in January.
  • Data help nonprofits tell their stories while also managing results, leaving more time for collaboration – On the flip side, data help funders manage results, leaving more time for collaboration. It’s a win-win.
  • Sector–sourcing a taxonomy (for both the funder and the nonprofit seeking funding communities) allows the sector to speak the same language – This taxonomy will be deployed as a part of the outcomes solution.
  • The ability to drive true change is dependent on both sides of the equation (funder and nonprofit) working in harmony. Having clarity around the outcomes a nonprofit seeks to deliver and what a funder seeks to support makes a better, more effective working relationship.

So as I dive into work back at the office, deal with the days that are getting dark too early and feeling the push begin around everything that’s due by year end, I do so with a sense of excitement.  With these themes floating around my head, I know this ecosystem of good is headed toward a positive 2016 where we, collectively, will make progress that this sector deserves.

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