Someone Else's Brilliant Idea

By Jessamyn Lau 

Here’s a great idea that we’ve been able to see in action and are now recommending to anyone who will listen!

In 2009 VisionSpring, began to let their funders know that they would be hosting reporting calls on a quarterly basis. They would prepare their slide deck report, with updates on their key metrics and organisational developments, send it out to their funders, and present it with commentary on the conference call. All the funders who called in got the most up to date information, and could then ask questions about the report or other things not included in the report. VisionSpring also asked for feedback on what else people would like to see in the report.

This was great for a number of reasons: 1) VisionSpring answered the common questions only once for everyone to hear, 2) we all got to connect with each other as funders with common priorities, 3) we got to learn from each other’s line of questioning, 4) everyone stayed on schedule. It saved us all time, but especially the VisionSpring team, who hopefully got to spend less time telling us what they did and more time doing what they do: reducing poverty through preparing Vision Entrepreneurs. I asked Malini Krishna, VP of Business Development for their perspective on other benefits or challenges this process brought VisionSpring.

“From VisionSpring’s perspective, the overall value of the quarterly dashboard calls is efficiently communicating our operational progress and collecting feedback to strengthen our programs and fundraising, which is critical to a small, resource constrained organization. I think the biggest challenge for VisionSpring with the calls is ensuring we have all the data in place to ensure we are transparent to our major donors. However, the time invested in this process is well worth it with the benefits we gain. Some of our funders have required/requested additional reporting to meet our grant terms, but we are usually better prepared because of this consistent communication and can better plan for additional presentations.”

There you have it. An organisation, for the most part, dictating the reporting terms for its funders. More efficient, more effective, perhaps even more fun. If you already do this/or decide to give it a try let us know how it works for you.