Gone are the days when a thank you letter or annual report would suffice for communicating with your supporters. Today’s donors want to know exactly whose lives they are impacting, and they want transparency of how their dollars are being used. Whether you are seeking impact investors or philanthropic donations, the key is to demonstrate the ROI your organization provides to the investor as a combination of financial and social returns. See Part 1 of this series to understand how potential investors and donors are evaluating your company against other charitable investments.

This post provides four steps and examples for attracting support through better reporting of donor-funded impact:

  1. Measure impact in terms that your audience cares about. The simplest approach leverages the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) described in Part 1, Quantifying Social ROI.
    Proof of impact

    Jolkona provides 1:1 proof of impact for each donation it receives.

    However, your cause can lend itself to creative ways to measure impact beyond cold statistics. This can also help you name specific amounts that a donor or investor can provide, matched with a known impact that you can measure. For example, rather than simply asking for $25, $50, and $100-tier donations, frame your fundraising in terms of $30 to provide a fuel-efficient stove to a family or $260 to build and install a sanitary toilet in a family’s home. Jolkona Foundation works with NGOs to design feedback loops that provide proof of impact to donors. For example, a donor sponsoring a child’s education might receive Continue reading

20090203-beware-this-blogWe’ve hit the mother lode with Stanford’s d.school design institute. Especially with their class on Design for Extreme Affordability, we could fill this blog with just the products of this class and the school’s alumni.

The most interesting thing to come out of our furious d.school link-clicking, though, has been Ambidextrous Magazine, staffed largely by the d.school community. Not so much the magazine as an article from its Spring ’08 “Developing” themed issue. Krista Donaldson’s article, written by a product developer who works in third-world countries, warns us of the futility of “design for developing countries”.

We sat up. “Design for the developing world” is one of the potential taglines for this blog. Is this a collection of useless inventions, with no hope of making a positive impact on the world? The article opens with a yawn at the cliche recipe for news coverage about design for the developing world:


“…nice young (usually white, usually male) Westerner visits (or reads about) poor country, is appalled by something he sees/reads, goes home and designs a solution, starts an NGO, and brings his solution to the poor country.”*


“The accompanying picture shows a clearly impoverished – but happier – user with product in a dark hut or on a sunburned scrubby dirt road.”


“The article…ends with a hopeful conclusion outlining the details of the product’s large-scale rollout plan in several countries.”


The point of this article is that design needs to be in developing countries. “Remote design” fails to address the whole problem: a community unable to save itself. Donaldson believes remote designers fail to seek methods of local production using local resources and the local workforce; fail to evaluate whether their users actually continue to use the products after initial adoption; fail to tailor the solution according to the local culture, priorities, or values.

As a marketer, I can appreciate this perspective. Many social designers could stand to do a bit more market research before pushing a new technology to their target market. But I don’t think it is a requirement to live there in order to produce a great design.

There is one product featured here on CbD that is produced in local factories, saves money for its users without complex adoption, and has enjoyed global distribution support at the highest levels. This is the Olyset mosquito net for malaria prevention which, interestingly, was made possible by a large Japanese conglomerate, not a university design group.

*NGO = non-governmental organization. Kind of like a nonprofit. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a nonprofit. Oxfam is an NGO.

In fact, it made 8 goals to accomplish by 2015. They call this the UN Millennium Project with eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).



These goals were set in September 2000. It’s now December 2008 – over halfway to the deadline. Are we halfway there?

I’m glad the UN was able to agree on a unified set of goals, for a start. The documentation seems like a very thorough quantification of how to measure progress against these goals – using all the best tools I see in Corporate America for achieving business goals.  But who is really acting to make these changes?

I’ll organize this blog by these 8 goals. You can click on the Categories to the right to find all the posts related to each goal. If you have any other suggestions, let me know!