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Telling a Different Story of Impact

Many of the partners we work with share our commitment to racial equity. Together, we are working toward a vision of justice that we may not see in our lifetime. Given that, how can we know if we are making meaningful progress toward the goal? We had the pleasure of discussing these questions with funders …

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Many of the partners we work with share our commitment to racial equity. Together, we are working toward a vision of justice that we may not see in our lifetime. Given that, how can we know if we are making meaningful progress toward the goal?

We had the pleasure of discussing these questions with funders in a session at GEO’s 2023 Learning Conference in the spring. Some funders are working to build relationships with and invest in BIPOC-led organizations as one way to help correct historic, systemic inequities in funding, and this is encouraging. Yet we also have seen some resistance to changing funding practices due to concerns around how to know whether new approaches are having the desired impact. Specifically, we see some funders struggle to give the types of support BIPOC leaders say matters most—such as unrestricted funding and multiyear support—because they have concerns about measuring and communicating impact. We also see funding preference given to organizations that have capacity and resources to measure and tell the story of their impact—which can perpetuate inequities in funding.

Understanding the progress, we are making toward dismantling inequitable systems in pursuit of racial equity will require different ways of thinking about impact. Below are three tools that offer alternate approaches to understanding the impact of long-term, complex work.

A tool to help understand the impact of narrative change. Advancing racial equity often requires changing hearts and minds. Narratives are commonly held ideas about individuals and society. Measuring Narrative Change is intended to help practitioners identify key outcomes and indicators relevant to various aspects of narrative change work and offer tools, frameworks, and resources.

A tool to help assess the strength of relationships. Social change work is relational. Measuring Love on the Journey to Justice makes the case for why focusing on love in social justice work matters and offers four interconnected dimensions of emergent, transformative, catalytic love to help guide change leaders in their relationships with themselves, with others, and with community.

A tool to help assess shifts in power. Achieving equity will require shifting power and resources to people who have historically been kept farthest from power and resources. Evaluating Power Building makes the case that power building has long been overlooked by the evaluation sector and offers considerations on ways to assess power-building efforts.

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