This morning I went to a Breakfast Club chat at General Assembly, where they served coffee and bagels, and hosted a little chat by Lilibeth Gangas, Chief Technology Community Officer at Kapor Center. From her staff bio:
In this role, Lili helps catalyze Oakland’s emergence as a social impact hub of tech done right – where tech, diverse talent, and action driven partnerships can tackle pressing social and economic inequities of our communities head-on.
She talked about her winding career path and a few of the questions that have guided her work, like “How can I have a positive impact on the people of the world?” and “How can I best use the talents I’ve been given?” The biggest lightbulb moment for me was when she mentioned that moving from the for-profit world to the non-profit world, was challenging at first, because she had been so used to working to meet clear ROI’s, and the non-profit world is less business-oriented. During the Q&A I asked her to elaborate on this with the question, “So, in the nonprofit world, how do you measure success?”
In her response she talked about the pitfalls of over-quantifying, making up metrics for metrics sake. Best business practices say that you should never be focused on more than 5 metrics at a time.
She talked about how Kapor Center is “lucky to have PhD’s working with Theory of Change” who break down the big lofty goals that drive the nonprofit into smaller strategies, tactics, and measurable deltas. Of course they’re looking at things like “how many people did we place into jobs”, but it’s not just direct impact that you have at a nonprofit. You have to think about the indirect impact as well.
She ended with simple, if mystifying, advice, “Less is more.”
I’m thinking I want to reach out to her and some of her colleagues to talk about their Theory of Change (this is something Nina Simon mentioned during her CAM talk as well), and how we might be able to adapt this to the art/social justice we’re working on here. I feel like we can measure sales and donations, we can track attendance, demographics, and psychographics. But we’re missing something. We’re missing that intangible inspiration that happens outside our walls, maybe takes 10 years to become visible, that spreads and makes culture subtly slowly surely shift.