The need to measure and prove your worth has become critical as funders demand to know more about nonprofits' value than the number of clients they serve.
For the past decade, Sheri Jones’ company Measurement Resources has been helping nonprofits nationwide measure their impact and value to their communities by creating metrics that let them make more targeted decisions. On Sept. 1, its business model evolved considerably with the rollout of its sister venture, SureImpact.
“We researched every product on the market and there really wasn’t a software-as-a-service solution I’d recommend,” says Jones. By 2017, Jones and her crew decided to create the tool themselves, and SureImpact was born. The point, she says, was to automate managing, tracking and communicating an organization’s impact.
It’s a pressing need in a sector with tight resources. Jones says over the past five years or more, the need to measure and prove your worth has become critical as funders demand to know more about nonprofits’ value than the number of clients they serve.Stay up to date with the region’s thriving business scene. Subscribe to Columbus CEO’s weekly newsletter.
“We did some market research, interviewed nonprofits and local government leaders about what we were trying to build,” Jones says. “More than 55 percent said they’d be likely to purchase if we created it. When I saw those results, I said ‘Oh my goodness, I have to build this!’ ”
Jones turned to Rev1 Ventures’ Customer Learning Lab in 2018 and got to work, creating a SaaS package that Measurement Resources has been beta testing and plans to release more widely in January.
Jones says the status quo is that the average nonprofit uses spreadsheets to track data on caseloads, or a modified sales product like Salesforce. But that customization ends up costing many precious hours.
SureImpact’s first eight beta members are spending about $15,000 annually for the software, Jones says. Users include Buckeye Ranch and the Electrical Trades Center locally and Western Youth Services in Anaheim, California. Jones hopes to have 30 members using the platform by June.
Measurement Resources has invested a couple of hundred thousand dollars into SureImpact thus far, including the seed money paid upfront for the first year from the handful of beta users.
Jones says she thinks SureImpact will best serve the $50,000-and-up social services nonprofit, of which there are more than 100,000 in the United States alone. She sees the platform eventually using predictive analytics to gather intelligence on an industry-wide basis.
Jones is in talks with the Reeb Avenue Center and the United Way, hoping to enlist umbrella agencies that could get their grantees onto the SureImpact platform.
“I realize I’m trying to disrupt my own business,” she says with a laugh. “But my vision is as QuickBooks is to small business, SureImpact will be to nonprofit impact measurement. And it will change the work we do at Measurement Resources; we can be a referral partner to SureImpact and focus on helping them be more strategic with how to use that data.”