Moving the needle: How to measure philanthropic success

By Carrie Boerio
Senior Director of Programs

As the director of our grantmaking programs, I get to meet many funders from across the nation. We trade ideas on topics that help us all become better grantmakers. One of the most common things I hear is how many of them struggle with mission and measurement. In other words:  “Are we specific enough about the change we are trying to make, and how do we measure it? How do we know if we are moving the needle?”

At the Foundation, I am glad we can answer those questions with a definitive yes. And here’s how.

Know your mission.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has a singular focus. To dramatically increase adoptions from foster care. Very simply, no victim of child abuse or neglect should leave foster care at age 18 without a family.

Invest in how to best achieve your mission.
Because we invested in an empirical evaluation (a control group study over five years), we know that children served by our Wendy’s Wonderful Kids grantmaking program are up to three times more likely to get adopted.

Measure and evaluate.
Every month, our recruiters tell us how many children they are working with, how many have been placed into homes, how many are in the process of being adopted, and how many can now say they have a family forever. And now we are following many of those families to measure their well-being after adoption.  Because we measure every aspect of the program, we know that the 3,600 children adopted through our program are in the demographics most likely to age out of care.

The needle is moving, thanks to our donors, our grantee agencies and our 185 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five Canadian provinces. Children are getting adopted into loving, permanent families. Join us. Donate online or drop some change in the coin canister at a Wendy’s restaurant. You can help our mission and know your investment in children will be used to help us continue to move the needle.

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