How are nonprofits, philanthropies, and social sector leaders using data and research to impact communities? Here are just a few examples...



 The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) seeks to provide data and create insight that allows funders to increase their effectiveness and subsequently, their intended impact. CEP's mission "stems from a belief that improved effectiveness of philanthropic funders can have a profoundly positive impact on nonprofit organizations and the people and communities they serves." 

Focusing Philanthropy identifies and evaluates nonprofit candidates for personal giving, helping individual donors gain confidence that "the funds or time they contribute are achieving the greatest impact possible in addressing identified problems."

GiveWell is committed to finding outstanding giving opportunities and transparently providing analysis to help donors decide where to give. "Unlike charity evaluators that focus solely on financials, assessing administrative or fundraising costs, we conduct in-depth research aiming to determine how much good a given program accomplishes (in terms of lives saved, lives improved, etc.) per dollar spent."

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) is a community of more than 500 grantmakers that seeks to improve the way philanthropy operates. "Understanding that grantmaking is only successful to the extent that their grantees achieve meaningful results, GEO promotes strategies and practices that contribute to grantee success."



Evidence Action fills the gap between "what works" and scaled impact by implementing cost-effective, rigorously tested programs that can benefit millions globally. 

MDRC is dedicated to finding solutions to some of the country's toughest problems, such as poverty reduction, economic self-sufficiency, and improved public education. "We design promising interventions, evaluate programs using the highest research standards, and provide technical assistance to build better programs and deliver effective interventions at scale."

Nurse-Family Partnership connects low-income, first-time mothers with ongoing home visits from registered nurses. From pregnancy until the child reaches two years of age, the mothers receive care and support needed to have a healthy pregnancy, provide responsible and competent care for their children, and become more economically self-sufficient. 


Tools and metricS

The Foundation Center's Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact, or TRASI, is a collection of more than 150 tools, methods, and best practices for measuring impact in the social sector. The database is searchable by name, sponsor, or approach type. 

Written collaboratively by the Social Impact Exchange and mdrc, A Funder's Guide to Using Evidence of Program Effectiveness in Scale-Up Decisions provides practical advice to funders considering scale-up opportunities. The guide focuses on questions that funders should ask as well as stumbling blocks to avoid.

The Robin Hood Foundation is focused on a single goal: fighting poverty in New York City. The foundation's system of metrics, known as Relentless Monetization, helps evaluate a wide range of poverty interventions. A downloadable pdf of the 163 Metrics formulas the foundation has developed to date can be found here.

The Tides Foundation's Assessing Social Impact of Investments concisely outlines the ways that impact can be measured,  what conditions must be in place for such measurement to occur, and potential pitfalls in developing impact assessment systems.