As more and more donors begin to demand evidence-based reports of the impacts of their donations, nonprofits will have to say goodbye to the anecdote-based chronicles of yesteryear that relied on heartwarming stories but few measurable facts.’s Impacting Responsibly report was created in partnership with the Urban Institute’s Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy, Candid, and New Philanthropy Capital.

The report asked 25 nonprofit and philanthropy leaders key questions about measuring impact.

Here is an excerpt from a report published by

In over-simplified terms, nonprofits sell change, and donors buy change. Whether it’s a one-time $20 donation from an individual or a multi-million dollar commitment from a foundation, we give to organizations that we believe are creating the change we are seeking. Yet, how do we know if organizations are truly creating change?


Leaders in the social sector have begun to recognize the need for better evidence to improve their understanding of what their impact – their ability to create change – really is. While formal evaluation methods can provide a wealth of impact data, many organizations may never have the resources to conduct a methodologically rigorous study like a randomized controlled trial. Additionally, program evaluation doesn’t always yield actionable, timely data that programs and communities need to understand and improve their impact.

We recognize that the social sector needs…something. Some evidence. Some data. Something that will help us have greater insight into the impact that organizations are making. What organizations need is impact data, which is meant to cover the breadth of data collected about an organization or program that serve as an insight into performance. Organizations are increasingly providing impact data to donors and funders, which is beginning to drive change in the social sector.

However, the rise of the use of impact data has raised some important questions, such as:

  • Do all organizations need to collect and report on impact data?
    How can organizations of all sizes and budgets utilize impact data?
  • How can we better engage those we serve in collecting impact data?
  • How should we handle data privacy and protection?
  • Should we be aligning to standard outcomes?
  • How can we work in collaboration to maximize what we can learn from impact data?

Download the full report here.