If you are in the process of considering grantee performance management, reporting, and/or Global Results Framework solutions and tools, Clear Impact Scorecard is a viable option.

Clear Impact Scorecard allows your United Way to not just look at the performance of individual programs and partners, but to aggregate this data and relate it to the impact in the community as a whole.

It can also enable your United Way to better provide backbone support organization including policy, advocacy, professional development, capacity building, and potentially adding financial resources to the United Way funding pool.

If you’re seriously considering Clear Impact Scorecard (or another tool) you may have a lot of questions about how it works in a real-world context.

To help answer some of these questions and address your concerns, we recently held a Q&A session with Julie Singley, Community Impact Program Manager at Berkshire United Way, as well as Michael Adrian, implementation success manager at Clear Impact.

Read on for useful information to guide you in your decision-making process:

 Can multiple United Ways in the same region use the same Clear Impact Scorecard account if they have the same focus areas?

(answered by Michael Adrian, Clear Impact)

 Yes, this is an option. In the Clear Impact Scorecard we refer to a collection of metrics, users, and preferences or settings as an “instance.” You can include yourself and your partners all on one instance if you’d like.

Additionally, you could set up each local United Way with its own autonomous instance, and then share data between those groups using our Partner Connect feature, which allows each partner to have their own autonomy and work locally, but also to share data for collaborative purposes across United Ways and other partners.

We’ve seen grantees (funded partners for United Ways) opt-in to having their own instances so that they can use the functionality of the software for their own reporting, in addition to reporting directly to the United Way.

Whatever the privacy preferences or settings may be, we can accommodate that within the Clear Impact Scorecard software, and provide the ability to share data across those partners.

Can a grantee see how their performance compares to other grantees in the same focus area and how that is impacting the population? Can United Ways look at and compare grantee performance?

(answered by Michael Adrian, Clear Impact)

This is definitely possible. With “relationships” in Clear Impact Scorecard, you can identify measures to compare on the same graph. So, if you standardize or have some similarity in the metrics you’re tracking for different grantees in different focus areas or strategies, funding streams, etc., you can compare them all on the same graph.

One of the things we find, however, that you may want to address with your partners is determining what amount and kinds of data you want to share. Oftentimes, grantees are comfortable submitting data to you as the funder, the United Way, but they’re not necessarily comfortable being immediately compared to other grantees – even if they’re in the same community.

There are also data protection and privacy considerations that you’ll need to address locally with your partners and/or community members. But, there is a way to easily see, on one graph, multiple measures for comparison purposes. When we establish a comparison, you can actually view it as a line chart or a bar chart, and just like everything else in our charts, it’s toggle-able. So, you can choose the timeframe and the different elements that you want to compare.

Check out this sample graph comparing the number of patients treated for an urgent care program at four different locales:

graph

Do you have your funded partners write narratives for their data points each quarter, and do they write to the story behind the curve for each of their performance measures? Or, do you choose specific performance measures?

(answered by Julie Singley, Berkshire United Way)

Each of our funded partners writes their narrative quarterly. If they don’t have any updates for that quarter, we ask that they write “no updates” and the date, so that when our United Way staff goes in to look at their reporting, we know that. And we do pre-select one target performance measure for each strategy. So, they may just write a narrative on one of the performance measures.

Are United Ways required to use Clear Impact Scorecard?

On the Global Results Framework:

(answered by Michael Adrian, Clear Impact)

Currently, United Way Worldwide is looking for United Ways to opt-in to reporting for that project, but the idea or intention of the project is to have all the local United Ways reporting on the Global Results Framework via Clear Impact Scorecard.

Learn more about how Scorecard can support the GRF here.

On having United Way partners use the Scorecard:

(answered by Julie Singley of Berkshire United Way)

It’s required for all of our community partners that we fund, internally for our coalition work, and our staff associated with that coalition. We have a coordinator of youth development who is responsible for entering data monthly on her coalition work activities.

Why would you choose to have grantees submit data directly vs. doing it in-house at the United Way? (Related to the tradeoff of time/expenses vs. accuracy/consistency of having one designated person do data entry?)

(answered by Julie Singley, Berkshire United Way)

I would say, for our community partners, having them enter data themselves keeps them more engaged in the process, and they come to possess a greater appreciation of evaluations.

On our end, in terms of capacity, we have over 30 programs that we support, so that would be a lot of internal time for us. Giving partners the opportunity to have a data system allows them to access it at any point during the year so that they can use it for other grants or to improve their programming throughout the year.

Can you speak to the budget and demographic reporting Scorecards and the process of submitting that data into the software? 

(answered by Julie Singley, Berkshire United Way)

For our budget, we have a template in excel that asks for the program expenses and program revenue. We recently transferred all of what we’re asking for from excel to the Clear Impact Scorecard software so that we could have the system calculate the percentage of our funding for that program. We thought it would be easier for our program to be able to have all their reporting – their demographics, budget, and performance measure reporting – on the same system so that they don’t have to do things separately.

For our demographics, that is also a separate Scorecard, and we ask about geography. So, we have it broken out by county and the towns within each of those. We ask about household income, marital status, gender, age, and racial background. All of those categories are on one Scorecard. Each program has their own Scorecard, but then we’re able to roll-up and see who all of our programs are serving in the aggregate.

How do you aggregate qualitative data? Is it just available at the partner/program level, or are we able to tell the story behind the curve for our more aggregate, strategic-level data?

(answered by Michael Adrian, Clear Impact)

From an aggregation standpoint from within the Scorecard, there isn’t an automated summary of the things that you are typing into rich-text boxes (notes). Instead, there is a space, whether you’re thinking about it from the story behind the curve perspective or just setting context, where you can provide qualitative context or qualitative data (a narrative write-up) at all of those different levels.

So you, as a United Way leader, would be able to see what your partners are submitting based on their performance. Then, as you’re looking at it from a strategic standpoint, you can use those stories and narratives, as well as your own experience and narrative, to develop your own context for the higher-level, aggregate data.

So, it’s a little more of a manual process, but it ends up being more useful, because you get to use that data to drive decision-making, which is the ultimate purpose of the software.

What happens if an organization doesn’t track all the information you request? Do you support them in setting up tracking by individuals so they can report it in aggregate?

(answered by Julie Singley, Berkshire United Way)

Yes, we provide one-on-one technical assistance to partners by request who may need help with their evaluations. What happens if they don’t track the information? We’ve requested input from our community partners in identifying the performance measures, so our goal is that they’re already collecting this information for other grantors or for their own programs.

But in cases that they’re not, we will work with them to collect that data on an individual basis. And we have some recommended evaluation tools. So, for our quality early education and care programming, they all use teaching strategies goals as an evaluation and they’ll report in the aggregate on Scorecard.

Can Clear Impact Scorecard be used to manage grant applications?

(answered by Michael Adrian, Clear Impact)

Generally speaking, Clear Impact does not consider the Scorecard to be a grant application management system in terms of managing and collecting the forms and files that need to be submitted.

We have seen local United Ways utilize the functionality of the Scorecard to support most of those needs, but it’s not used like a traditional grant application management software; it’s used as a grant performance management software, which ultimately becomes the bulk of the work, although it may not feel like it around that application or RFP time. It more resembles the questions of, “now that we have a grantee, how are they performing, how do they fit into our strategic plan, and how do they support our community goals?”

(answered by Julie Singley, Berkshire United Way)

 We have a two-year funding cycle and in our second year, we’ve somewhat incorporated the renewal application so that our current funded partners will submit that on Scorecard (entering their target values for the upcoming year by quarter as well as entering program narrative on what we do, who we serve, and how we impact). So we’ve used it for that shortened renewal application for our community partners, but our initial application is outside Clear Impact Scorecard.

How do you convince others that this is the way to go? What is the value proposition to having partners enter data? How do you manage them doing so in a timely and accurate manner? How do you convince your board to move forward with this?

(answered by Michael Adrian, Clear Impact)

On value:

Scorecard allows the United Way to not only look at the performance of individual programs and partners, but also show collective performance and relate that to the impact in the community as a whole. It also enables the United Way to better provide backbone support organization activities – everything from policy advocacy to professional development and capacity building and potentially adding financial resources to the United Way pool.

I recently attended the Fundraising for Impact Summit provided by United Way Worldwide, where they invited many of the fundraisers or resource developers from local United Ways to find new ways to tell their stories successfully. The theme of the entire summit was that, in order to fundraise appropriately, you need community impact to be working and be able to tell the story in an engaging way. You should also be able to back it up with data.

I think when board members realize it has that potential – not just impacting their communities positively, but also helping to build a sustainable system across the community from a financial resource perspective – that’s really interesting to them.

On convincing boards:

I also participated with local United Way staff introducing Scorecard to their board and trying to get the approval to move forward. One of the things that really stuck out to me about that was that they basically said to their board “every time we get to a point where you ask us a question about data, we don’t have an answer for it because we don’t have a system in place. This is the system that will help answer those questions. So, would you like to continue hitting these roadblocks or would you like us to be able to have answers and create strategies and solutions from there?”

It’s all unique to your community and your board, but those are just some ideas.

(answered by Julie Singley, Berkshire United Way)

On submitting data on a timely basis:

We provide about a month before each performance report is due. We’ll send out emails to community partners that say their reporting is due. We also created an instruction guide that I send as an attachment to partners. And then, our community impact associate and I will answer questions up until reporting is due. Once reporting is due, we will review to make sure all of the information is included and makes sense.

In some cases, we noticed that some of the percentages were over 100%, and we know that’s not possible, so we followed up with our community partners to ask them to clarify that information.

Our partners are usually responsive. We’ll first try email, but then we’ll call if we haven’t heard from them via email.

On the value of Scorecard:

I would say that our community partners have real-time access to their data and can export the charts where percentages are automatically calculated for them, and then they can use that for other grant opportunities.

On board support:

We were really fortunate that all of board were supportive of and recognized the importance of reporting and accountability. We had already adopted the Results-Based Accountability framework back in 2014 so we saw that the Scorecard was a natural fit that aligned with that. Get your board to see the benefit of reporting and being accountable so that partners can improve their programs and be impactful.

 If a United Way is looking to implement Clear Impact Scorecard, how much staff time should be budgeted in year one and beyond? 

(answered by Julie Singley, Berkshire United Way)

Year one was more intensive for us because, with the design phase, we worked with Michael and his colleagues on designing our community partners’ scorecards. We have about 38 programs, so that was intensive.

I also worked with Clear impact on creating all of our scorecards for all of our coalition activities. So, each of the strategies from our strategy map for capacity building (in each focus area) has a scorecard. Within early childhood, positive youth development, and economic prosperity, we have a scorecard for each of those strategies.

I’d say the first year I spent a majority of my time working on Scorecard, but it’s also more intensive when our reporting is due. Our third quarter reporting is due by April 15th, so the week prior to that I’m anticipating getting questions and providing technical assistance to community partners. The week immediately following that will be intensive in reviewing all of our community partner reports that are in.

It’s hard to say an exact hour amount, but between our quarterly reporting, I am spending my time working on other projects in the office.

Do you incentivize your programs and partners to track individual or program participant level data?

(answered by Michael Adrian, Clear Impact)

From a Clear Impact Scorecard software perspective, we hold every layer of data above the personally identifiable information. But, we know that a lot of these questions, especially for programs, about how much they did, how well they did it, and whether anyone is better off, are going to be derived from that data.

We have heard of many different systems used in conjunction will Clear Impact Scorecard to support those data needs. Local United Ways that we currently work with use many different processes. Ultimately, we recognize the importance of that data for the program staff themselves and for getting the data for Scorecard. The Scorecard, however, is dedicated to all of the layers above that layer of data for more strategic and organizational thinking and reporting.

How can you share your Scorecards with the public?

(answered by Michael Adrian, Clear Impact)

You can share links to your scorecards with anyone you want or embed them directly on your websites. Links will bring you to publicly hosted, real-time, non-editable versions of your Scorecard that people can interact with and view data and graphs. The data for public Scorecards updates automatically as you update it within the software. You can also customize how your scorecards appear to others (what data can be viewed, etc.). No public visitors will be able to edit the scorecards in any way.

You can see an example of a website embed on the United Way of Central Iowa’s website here.

How do you currently break down your strategy-making compared to the logic model tradition of United Ways? Have you replaced logic models with this new strategy mapping tool? What are the benefits and drawbacks of both methods?

(answered by Julie Singley, Berkshire United Way)

We encourage both. Ideally, we would like our community partners to align with a logic model and have a theory of change, but for our internal use at United Way, we’ve replaced that with the Scorecard Strategy Map. We find that it is a better visualization tool to help explain our work, especially to our board members, our community volunteers, and even our community partners. It’s a better representation of how we work.

(answered by Michael Adrian, Clear Impact)

We’ve created a visual in our system to provide a translation of the logic model to the RBA methodology.

View Berkshire United Way’s strategy map here.

Additional Resources:

For additional information on special United Way Pricing, the implementation process, and how to try the software, you can contact our Implementation Success Manager Michael Adrian at Michael@clearimpact.com.

Sign up for a live demo here.

Learn more about how Scorecard can support the GRF here.