Investing in Impact - Capital Area Food Bank
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Investing in Impact

By Brittany Kirk March 5, 2013

Nonprofits are dedicated to serving their communities, but must commit much of their time to acquiring resources needed to operate. With looming federal budget cuts and a recovering economy, nonprofits have to find ways to clearly communicate their value to donors. Unlike for-profit companies, nonprofits cannot simply speak to their success through the “bottom line.” At nonprofits like the Capital Area Food Bank, we have to tell our story through a different lens.
Some nonprofits fail because they are unable to effectively communicate the results of their work. After graduating from college, I took a job as a social worker connecting low-income families to community resources like food pantries and temporary housing. Building close relationships with clients was time consuming, but I found it to be the most critical element to my success. Unfortunately, it is not easy to quantify the value of relationship building and shortly after I began my work, the program lost funding.
In the failure of the program, I saw opportunity. I went to graduate school and learned how nonprofits can clearly capture and communicate the vital impact they are making in the community on a daily basis.
This personal investment in impact measurement led me to the Capital Area Food Bank: a nonprofit explicitly dedicated to measuring its community impact. The CAFB works hard to capture data that conveys its accomplishments. On average, the food bank distributes 33 million pounds of food to over 700 community partners each year. This translates into meals for 480,000 community members in need each year.
The CAFB also tracks how its work impacts the well-being of each person struggling with hunger by measuring buy-in and support for healthy food, the strength of community networks, and the operating capacity of partner organizations.
Through impact measurement we will come to know as much about ourselves as we know about the communities we serve. This investment will open minds to new possibilities and doors to opportunity.