portfolio of changeShowing Volunteer Impact: How to Use A Portfolio of Change

Recently, I was interviewed about story banking and how to use it to capture volunteer experiences (for more read an earlier post).  It occurred to me that one way to communicate the transformations nonprofit supporters make possible is by pulling the information together into a “Portfolio of Change” to show volunteer impact.

Much as corporate shareholders seek positive growth in their financial portfolios, volunteers and donors want to see their investment in good causes reap rewards in the form of a social return on investment. What better way to help volunteers understand the breakthroughs that can be made than by reviewing what has already been accomplished? A “Portfolio of Change” is a perfect vehicle to share the news.

What is “Portfolio of Change” and How Can it Show Volunteer Impact?

Similar to annual reports distributed by most nonprofits, a Portfolio of Change tells the story of your organization‘s work on behalf of the community.  In a more focused way, however, a Portfolio of Change can depict the impact of a single program. And, in a more global manner, it can shed light on the collective experiences of clients, volunteers, staff, your community, your funders, and others who are affected by your work.

Annual Report vs. “Portfolio of Change”

While the format and content for an annual report is generally bound by tradition, a Portfolio of Change can serve as a program’s evergreen virtual scrapbook. It can include photos, videos, testimonials, data, infographics, etc. that are updated regularly and continuously document what occurs when a group of caring people work in partnership to make the world a better place.  Similar to a Facebook timeline, a Portfolio of Change can keep your supporters in the loop on your program’s life changes and, more importantly, how you have realized your mission in concrete ways.

A Focus on Impact

As the name implies, a Portfolio of Change should focus on the outcomes brought about by your program and volunteers, rather than general news, updates, and requirements.  Given your mission, what has changed because of the work of volunteers and program staff?  How is the world a better place, specifically?  A Portfolio of Change can vividly bring to light transformation and renewal versus focusing on the status quo.  It might also include areas of challenge and focus.

What to Include

The good news is that since developing a Portfolio of Change is a new idea, there are no rules about what you should and should not include.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Video Interviews that Share “Before and After” Stories

  • A Visual Map Depicting Your Program’s Journey of Change

  • A Calculation of Your Program’s Return on Investment (ROI)

  • Simple Graphics Showing Your Program’s Most Significant Outcomes

  • Scanned Thank You Notes from Clients and Their Families

  • News Articles That Cover Your Program’s Successes
Photos From Your Most Recent Volunteer Recognition Event
  • Links to Your Most Recent Grant Report

Where to Share

If you don’t have immediate access to an online environment, you can compile your Portfolio of Change into a three-ring binder, but why limit yourself?  There are plenty of free and low-cost software options that allow you to upload, house, and share your Portfolio of Change. 

If your IT department has the time to create a maintain a page on your agency’s website, that’s great.  If not, try setting up your own wiki.  Give staff and volunteers access so that they can upload their own contributions to the Portfolio.  Or, set up a Facebook page focused entirely on your stories of change. 

Share your Portfolio publicly.  And, whatever platform you choose, be sure to link to it from your agency’s webpage and include the web address in your brochures, fact sheet, and application materials, so that it can be found easily.  Also, be sure to enable any sharing widgets in your software so readers inside and outside your organization can share the good news with others.

Perhaps you are already sharing your story of change.  If so, tell us how you do it by adding your comments to the comment link.