Demonstrating Value Blog

September 23, 2015

In 2012, Vancity Community Foundation (VCF) and the BC Association of Farmers Markets collaborated on the development of a Farmers Market Impact Toolkit that is available on the Demonstrating Value resource page. Over the past few years, the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) in the United States has been embarking on its own measurement project, which builds on our project in many ways.  DVRS’s Director and Program Manager of Evaluation at VCF, Bryn Sadownik, is currently serving as an advisor to their project - Indicators for Impact: Farmers Markets as Leaders in Collaborative Food System Data Collection – which they are conducing in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.    

They recently finished the first...

September 23, 2015

Templates that can support data collection, analysis and reporting abound in many different formats and locations on websites.  You can find these on sites that support community, small business and social enterprise developments, and as part of software tools like Google docs, Survey, Form Builder  and Database Tools. Here is a small sampling of the range of templates that are out there that could be directly relevant to what you do. Following one link will bring you to many many more.  Also check out DV related templates in our Tools and Resources page.


September 22, 2015


This year's CESBCY Evaluation Conference will focus on evaluations of non-profit initiatives across the province and bring together both not-for-profit staff and evaluators who play a variety of roles within the world of non-profit evaluation. The theme, “Collaboration, Contribution and Collective Impact”, is a tribute to the role of evaluation in supporting system-wide improvement and social change.  Conference participants will be engaged as active learners throughout the day, building a community of practice to support the ongoing evaluation of non-profit initiatives.


The conference programme will include many different approaches and tools like developmental evaluation and social return on investment, and feature many practical case studies.   Look for a...

September 22, 2015

In our growing excitement about the power of Big Data, it easy to overlook the importance of using the ‘little data’ out there. These are the data that organizations already collect, but which may not be used to their full potential.    Time spent summarizing, analyzing and using data is as important as collecting it!  Here are five simple tips for getting more from your data:


1. Get into the practice of communicating quality and not quantity.
Communicating something briefly and meaningfully requires time to synthesize information and to think strategically.   Data and other information are ultimately there to support decision-making, strategic directions and to engage others.  It can be pulled together in ways that can create new insights. Nurture a culture in your team...

May 27, 2015

My vote is long since mailed in, but I am always on the look out for publications and  tools that take complex data about impact and relates it to my own personal decisions.  Here is a pretty amazing 'data journalism' project called Moving Forward, that explores the future of transportation in Metro Vancouver.  Even if you do not live in his region, it is a pretty remarkable website with both excellent analysis and tools that can enable you to explore different facets of sustainable transportation.  If you do live in the region, the website tools make it really easy to apply what you learn to your own situation. They also do this in some of the most beautiful data visualizations that I've seen!



It is produced by...

May 27, 2015

Though I don’t follow baseball much, I do know enough that stats are a big part of the game. Thus this anecdote in Michael J. Mauboussin's article "The True Measures of Success" in the Harvard Business Review is pretty interesting:


"Baseball managers used to focus on a basic number—team batting average—when they talked about scoring runs. But after doing a proper statistical analysis, the A’s front office recognized that a player’s ability to get on base was a much better predictor of how many runs he would score."

They go on to recruit players with this ability, and do well by it.

What is interesting about this anecdote is that baseball teams aren't the only ones to...

May 5, 2015
Among competing management and planning priorities, it is not always easy to make time for improving systems to measure and communicate organizational performance and impact.  You also need to have solid buy-in for the process from others around you, including both leadership and front-line staff.  I've worked with many different organizations over the past few years, and along the way I've gathered a few observations for how organizations can successfully move ahead.  
1.  You are already spending lots of time measuring. Be more effective. Rare is the community-based organization that is not already spending lots of...
May 5, 2015

Over the past few years, I have often heard that  ‘Vancouver is the second least affordable city in the world.’  I usually use this metric to feel sorry for myself that I didn’t buy real estate right when I moved here 20 years ago.


When people say the word "world", I usually picture this:



Apparently it’s second most expensive in a world of only 9 countries.    Last time I checked (on Google) there were 265 countries!  While the snob in me loves to be compared only to such cities as Tokyo, London and Paris, the picture actually changes a lot when other countries are brought into the equation. Jim Sutherland takes this up in an article, Vancouvers problem isn't high housing costs...

April 28, 2015

The glossy photos of software solutions are very appealing: a person smiling and relaxed while working at a computer (and not looking like they are on the verge of throwing it against a wall); screenshots that show colourful graphics and easy to read data.   

If you are caught in a slow motion nightmare of implementing a new software system like a Customer Relationship Management (or other database) that is not going according to plan you are not alone.  According to many industry analysts, a huge number of CRM projects fall short.  Some even estimate more than half fail. 

In both businesses and non-profits (and everything in between), CRMs are a mix of policies, processes and strategies used...

April 27, 2015

Some of the most challenging impacts to define and measure relate to the value of arts and culture.  While it is quite common to see output numbers like attendance and participation rates for arts and culture-related initiatives, rarely do we see measures that relate to deeper impacts.  Yet without this, cultural investments often find themselves on the short end of the stick and are traded off in favour of competing investments.  


So what do we know about the role of arts and culture in creating social value?

The Urban Institute undertook an Arts and Culture Indicators Project over many years to look into this question.  The first publication in the series, Culture counts in communities: A framework for measurement...