As a corporate funder turned consultant, I’ve spent the last decade helping funders make the shift from philanthropy to social, or impact investing.

What is impact investing?

Impact investing means more than simply “doing good.” It means investing with purpose to achieve specific, measurable outcomes and impact. In the impact investing model, when we give to a cause, we should see specific and measureable return in the form of social change.

In practice, impact investing means partnering with and funding nonprofit organizations to effect social change in areas that are aligned with the strategic priorities and overall mission and vision of the organization. And I’m proud to say that over the past eight years, I have helped giving organizations shift millions of dollars to impactful, measurable giving and empowered them to tell their organization’s results story.

Those years of working as a champion for change brought me to where I am today: part of Blackbaud’s MicroEdge. How did I get here?

Last summer, I was fortunate to see a preview of the new outcomes measurement solution that MicroEdge has been building. What I saw was something that has the potential to be game-changing for the giving sector. I had to become a part of this!

Here are three reasons you’re about to be as excited about outcomes measurement as I am:

  1. Apples are apples; oranges are oranges. With a sector-sourced (and always growing) taxonomy of outcomes and output measurements, this common language will enable those who are already successful in achieving impact to share best practices and for those who are struggling, or just starting their outcomes journey, the ability to jump in.
  1. Goodbye, massive spreadsheets. You no longer have to rely on – and get headaches from – spreadsheets of data with pivot tables galore. With a system and dashboards to do the number-crunching for you, now your focus can be on interpreting the data, telling your impact story and integrating the learnings to inform your future strategy.
  1. Transparency replaces wondering. With easy set-up and reporting for both the funders and non-profits, you will gain a greater level of transparency and the ability to be “on the same page” about giving strategies like never before.

As the giving sector is empowered to continue to develop best practices and standards in measuring results, tracking trends in giving and the populations served, we will be able to determine if we, as a community, are actually making a difference on the issues we support.

Who’s excited about simplifying outcomes measurement? How will you tell your impact story?


Michelle DiSabato is a Philanthropic Impact subject matter expert with more than 20 years of experience developing, designing and implementing multi-million dollar philanthropic initiatives and programmatic social impact analyses. She recently joined Blackbaud’s MicroEdge business unit to help the giving community better leverage technology in their efforts to measure outcomes and tell their impact stories. Formerly a corporate program manager, Michelle has worked with a wide range of clients in industries ranging from healthcare and finance to consumer products and entertainment providers, helping them align their giving strategies to meet both their business and social responsibility needs.

In her free time, she volunteers and also serves on the Advisory Board of A Fresh Chapter Foundation, an organization dedicated to healing the emotional scars of cancer by turning the page to possibility.

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