RECODE: Co-Creating Impact Reporting
Over the past 6 months,
GrantBook has partnered with Purpose Capital, to co-create RECODE’s digital strategy and real-time impact reporting with RECODE grantees. Through this unique, collaborative process, we are striving to tell the national story and impact of RECODE through intuitive reporting processes and publicly available data.
To begin the impact reporting design process, Purpose Capital, an impact investment advisory firm, worked alongside RECODE grantees, the
J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and GrantBook to develop a comprehensive measurement, evaluation, and learning framework. This co-designed framework captures trends and key insights within RECODE campuses and across the Canadian post-secondary institution (PSI) ecosystem.
The five impact areas that RECODE will measure and evaluate are:
1. Community Impact: Benefits to the local community where a PSI is located
2. Culture Shift: Increasing course content in social entrepreneurship (SE), social innovation (SI), or social finance (SF)
3. Social Ventures: Increasing support for student social ventures
4. Student Experience: More opportunities to attend events and workshops supporting SI/SE/SF
5. Resource Allocation: Leveraging of new sources of financial & in-kind support for SI/SE/SF
Read more about RECODE’s impact reporting methodology
Build with the end in mind
GrantBook began the task of translating RECODE’s evaluation framework into a cost-effective and scalable approach using right-sized technology in January 2015. To effectively collect, curate and share impact and insights, GrantBook developed four high level design considerations:
1. Design for diverse RECODE projects and stakeholders
2. Conduct digital footprint audit to explore and leverage the work PSIs are already doing
3. Build a prototype with the end-user in mind
4. Collaboratively design and test a prototype with RECODE stakeholders
From February 2015 to July 2015, GrantBook collaborated with the RECODE Impact Reporting Working Group, a subset of 10 RECODE PSI campuses, to work through a five-step design process resulting in RECODE’s impact reporting prototype:
Step 1: Design exercise to determine the ideal data visualizations and key insights
Step 2: Determine how the data needs to be entered into online database
Step 3: Design and test reporting survey to ensure data will be visualized as desired
Step 4: Confirm automation requirements, specifically field names/types & data objects
Step 5: Conduct user-testing to ensure data flows as intended, conduct revisions as needed to any one of the proceeding steps
We call this five-step loop, “building with the end in mind,” a deliberate approach to using human-centered design to ensure that we’ve considered all technical and nontechnical aspects to how information can be collected, curated and shared that meets RECODE’s design considerations.
After months of collaboration, design and testing, RECODE now has a functional impact reporting prototype for the
Culture Shift and Resource Allocation components of the evaluation framework. Once the prototype is launched in Fall 2015, grantees will be able to visit the RECODE impact reporting site, complete survey forms which will then visualize their data in near real-time on the impact reporting site.
Key Features & Limitations
Like all prototypes, RECODE’s impact reporting process has its features and limitations. One of the major strengths of this process is that the results are shared in near-real time on a public website (reports are not locked up in PDF’s on a program officer’s computer!) Implementing a user-centred and co-design approach allowed for the funder and grantees to develop the reporting to be as meaningful and useful as possible. Recognizing that time spent on administrative tasks is time not spent on achieving impact, RECODE’s impact reporting is intuitive and enables grantees to easily report and update their data quickly online with no need for an additional username/password.
Testing the impact reporting process with PSIs was an integral part of this prototype because it revealed several potential challenges. Although the selected technology is cloud-based which allows for version control and collaborative editing, internet access is required to add or edit information which may sometimes be an obstacle. The selected technology is lightweight but multiple reporting forms and spreadsheets may be confusing for some grantees. While this format is meant to complement grantees’ existing internal reporting process, it may – in the short term – cause some additional copy and pasting and/or entering via the web form.
“By sharing RECODE’s impact reporting data publicly, grantees can gain awareness and insight into each other’s tools and practices.”
Reflecting on RECODE’s new impact reporting framework, it is evident that the design process was collaborative and user-centred. It also also evident that this reporting process will reduce both grantees’ and the McConnell Foundation’s time and resources spent on reporting. What is not evident, however, and is perhaps where the greatest value of this impact reporting framework will be realized, is that the reporting goes beyond communicating impact to further enabling RECODE’s broader impact. By sharing RECODE’s impact reporting data publicly, grantees can gain awareness and insight into each other’s tools and practices. Our goal is to create the conditions for grantees to leverage knowledge and increase collaboration across the RECODE network to drive social innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education across Canada.
Thank you to the members of the Working Group and to everyone who has co-created the RECODE impact reporting framework and prototype. We are excited to see the results and insights!
About Kathryn Meisner
Kathryn Meisner helps grantmakers and impact investors thrive in the digital era by optimizing their technology and processes at the technology consulting firm, GrantBook. Previously, Kathryn has held roles helping people and organizations identify and implement strategies to reach their full potential at various organizations including Mozilla, Free the Children, Me to We, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, and the YMCA.