Alison Carlman | October 20, 2020
Community-led: Recently, the term has come to the forefront of conversations on global development, aid, and philanthropy. Many are calling for community-led solutions to societal problems. But what does community-led really mean? And according to whom? For the past several years, GlobalGiving has been studying this question, and just last month they completed a major research endeavor with Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF). The result of the research is a self-assessment tool developed through a participatory process with community members in six countries. The tool is designed to help nonprofits and other change agents reflect on the extent to which their organization is working for, with, or led by the people they intend to serve.
Before GlobalGiving and GFCF published a public-facing report and version of their tool to measure community led-ness, they came to the LabStorm group for advice. How could they make the tool truly useful for organizations—both nonprofits and funders? And of course, how can they bake feedback from constituents into the tool itself? Here’s what LabStorm attendees had to say:
1. Show organizations where they stand. GlobalGiving wants their community led-ness tool to be useful for many types of organizations. LabStorm attendees noted that one way to add value is to show self-assessment takers how they fit into the bigger picture. Based on the results of the first round of self-assessment takers, GlobalGiving could set benchmarks for “community led-ness” that organizations can compare their score against. Attendees also recommended that GlobalGiving offer organizations the opportunity to benchmark themselves against their past assessment scores to see how their community led-ness has improved over time. Seeing progress can be rewarding and could build loyalty around the tool.
2. Offer quick wins. In order to make this tool a success, GlobalGiving must also make it easy and rewarding to use. LabStorm attendees suggested that GlobalGiving find ways for self-assessment takers to have quick wins. One option is to break the assessment down into smaller pieces so that it is more approachable and gratifying. Others recommended offering some type of immediate reward for those who fill out the assessment. Perhaps the assessment could include an interactive or personalized component that can provide advice based on the organization’s responses and score.
3. Prove the tool’s value over time. Throughout this research and tool development process, GlobalGiving has been steadfast in their support for community-led work. The research provided myraid qualitative evidence that community-led organizations are more effective, agile and more likely to make a long term impact. In order to get external buy-in and support for this tool from funders and other organizations, LabStorm attendees raised the importance of linking community led-ness to these outcomes with qualitative proof. But LabStorm attendees assured GlobalGiving that qualitative links from community-ledness to outcomes are sufficient as a starting point. Over time, GlobalGiving can collect more data and present qualitative results.
Community led-ness is hard to measure, but worth the effort. LabStorm attendees were inspired by GlobalGiving’s work to make community led-ness more measurable so that organizations doing the hard work can see their value and be recognized, and ultimately so funders and organizations will be more accountable to the people they serve. Do you have advice for measuring community led-ness? If so, send a message to [email protected].
Featured Photo: Creating dignified jobs for 72 women in Kenya by Imani Collective.