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Impact Matters in Philanthropy

Updated: Jul 15


In the vast expanse of philanthropic causes, discerning donors often find themselves at crossroads, trying to determine which cause is the most 'worthy'. Yet, as worthy as any cause may be, an important question to consider is whether a donation to a particular non-profit organization will contribute to the actual solution of a problem. This is where the concept of impact becomes critical: it's not just about the worthiness of a cause, but more importantly, about the effectiveness of the organization that's working towards it.


The Nuance of Worthy Causes

Every cause championed by non-profit organizations is intrinsically worthy: eradicating poverty, preserving the environment, promoting education, prison ministry, and so on. However, the worthiness of a cause does not inherently guarantee the effectiveness of the non-profits working for it.


It's possible that well-intentioned organizations, despite their passion for their cause, lack effective strategies, solutions, or execution. When this is the case, the donations they receive might inadvertently go towards perpetuating ineffective programs rather than directly addressing the problems at hand.


The Importance of Measuring Impact

This is why measuring impact is crucial in philanthropy. Impact, in this context, signifies the actual, tangible change that an organization is able to effectuate with its resources. It speaks to the effectiveness of the organization’s strategies and execution, painting a clear picture of how efficiently it is translating its resources (including donations) into results.


Evaluating the impact allows donors to understand whether their money is making a real difference. Are the strategies employed by the non-profit effective in addressing the cause they champion? Is there a noticeable change that can be attributed to the organization's work? Answering these questions helps ensure that the donor's money is contributing towards a solution, rather than merely sustaining an organization.


Verification of Impact

The process of verifying impact requires transparency and accountability from the organization. Non-profits need to provide evidence of their effectiveness, which can take the form of quantitative data, such as statistics demonstrating improvements, or qualitative data, like testimonials from those who have benefitted from their initiatives.

Verification of impact can reveal whether a non-profit has an effective solution to the problem they are addressing. It's an indication of whether the organization is a viable vehicle for donors to contribute towards the cause it champions.


Moving Towards Impact-Driven Philanthropy

The shift towards an impact-driven approach in philanthropy promotes more efficient use of resources. Rather than just keeping a non-profit afloat, donors can ensure their contributions are fueling meaningful change. It also encourages non-profit organizations to be more solution-oriented, continually evaluating and improving their strategies to increase their effectiveness.


In conclusion, while the cause an organization represents is undeniably important, it should not be the sole factor guiding donation decisions. The effectiveness of an organization, demonstrated through the impact of its initiatives, is arguably even more critical. By prioritizing impact, donors can make informed decisions that ensure their contributions are not just supporting worthy causes, but also fostering effective solutions. After all, philanthropy is not merely about intention; it's about making a real difference.


By: Dr. Cary Sanders


P.S. If you'd like to discuss JUMPSTART's undeniable impact, I'd love the opportunity for us to talk. You can reach me at cary.sanders@jumpstartvision.org


A Few Witnesses that Testify to JUMPSTART's Impact

Read: An Expert Witness- Retired SC Supreme Court Justice E.C. Burnett III


Watch: South Carolina Department of Corrections Leader, Bryan Stirling testifies to JUMPSTART's impact and shares he tells other national correctional leaders to come see JUMPSTART.

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