Our Community powers up the Outcomes Engine

"So what, exactly, did we achieve with our [$ enter grant distribution here] last year?"

That's the question that keeps grantmakers awake at night, judging by discussions we've had repeatedly, often, and with increasing intensity in recent years, with grantmakers of all sizes and types.

As an organisation that both provides software to grantmakers and works towards a central mission of building stronger communities, we're kept awake by it too.

We know we have a unique opportunity to play a part in shifting the social sector's focus towards outcomes. Having built a system designed to make grantmakers more efficient, we now want to help you become more effective.

Our "Outcomes Engine" will use modern data analytics, data visualisation and impact evaluation concepts and tools to help you analyse your funding patterns, compare them with your objectives, and track your progress towards your aims.

The first component of the Outcomes Engine - a product of Innovation Lab - will be released to SmartyGrants users in a couple of months. Our mapping functionality will allow you to clearly see where your applications are coming from and where your money is going.

Geographic and demographic overlays will provide additional context.

Our next step will be to release tools to allow you to articulate your objectives and track them across all your funding streams across time. We are approaching the testing phase for these tools.

Make no mistake: this work is hard. There's no magic bullet. And there are big risks. Blunt metrics and dumb systems are easier to implement, but they lead to misleading answers, and that can be worse than having no answers at all. We have to tread very carefully.

Our Community's Manifesto dictates, "We strive for revolution but accept increments." We're keeping that in mind as we edge forward.

For more information about this project, email kathyr@ourcommunity.com.au.