Getting efficient as a means to create change: How the Community Impact Framework by Heritage United Way creates efficiencies in local organizations

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Southern New Hampshire University
Social service organizations are critical players and partners in community dynamics. However, until recently their effect on the community was mostly assumed. In an effort to determine how social service organizations impact the community, United Ways have begun implementing an outcomes-measurement framework and using it to determine funding. Known as Community Impact, this methodology includes a logic model design that intends for partner agencies to clearly identify outcomes their programs intend to affect in the greater community. While this paradigm shift is affecting system wide community structures, what has not been clear to this point is the effect community impact – and more specifically, the outcomes measurement training – has had on local agencies and their organizational structure and behavior. This study examined the partner agencies of Heritage United Way. A survey was conducted to determine the highest adopters of Community Impact and then an organizational assessment was done on eight of the highest adopters, as well as two local municipal government departments that also adopted Community Impact – to determine if any efficiencies had been gained since adopting the paradigm. Results determined that small agencies tended to adopt Community Impact more readily than other agency typologies. Additionally, organizational assessment results demonstrate that large agencies regardless of affiliation perceived the highest rate of efficiency in sustainability while small agencies perceived efficiency in mission, vision, values; small nationally affiliated agencies perceived efficiency in structure; and small government departments perceived efficiency in partnerships. The organizational survey instrument adapted and implemented for this study could prove to be a useful tool for future analysis of organizations and the efficiencies experienced when adopting new frameworks. (Author Abstract)