Spark gets a lot of great feedback on the matches we make. But what do those positive comments and testimonials really mean? How do Spark matches actually help strengthen Winnipeg’s community development sector?

Thanks to the outcome evaluations we do six months after a match is over, we have the statistics to back up what we’ve known intuitively for a long time. Spark’s capacity building matches have:

  • Clarified the path forward for organizations (67%)
  • Improved internal operations or systems (56%)
  • Increased community participation (28%)
  • Increased the organization’s public visibility and credibility (28%)
  • Increased staff energy and engagement (19%)
  • Increased revenue (17%)

How we work

When Spark started over ten years ago, we set out to build capacity in the organizations and projects that are making a difference in our city. We did this (and still do) by working with organizations to define, navigate and address their challenges. Next, we match them to Winnipeggers with the right skills and experience who want to contribute their expertise pro bono, then we let the volunteer and organization get the good work done.

How we evaluate

Once a match is complete, we evaluate its success while the experience is still fresh. We get in touch with both sides to see what they have accomplished, how they felt about working together, and get their feedback about Spark’s role and support. Then, we follow up with the organization six months after the work was completed. We want to know about the long term outcomes of the match: what skills and knowledge were built, and what difference has this match made for the organization and its mission.

These outcome questions have given us a lot of great feedback, but for a while we were unsure how to properly interpret and make use of it. Not surprisingly, it was some great pro bono advice that set us on the right path. We spoke with Planning and Evaluation Facilitator Erin Huck from Health in Common, and her suggestions prompted us to review our last three years of data to really dig into the difference our matches have made for organizations. We found that certain things stood out as crucial impacts and kept showing up in the feedback. Then we counted how often they appeared.

Making Winnipeg stronger, together

We’re proud that Spark and our volunteers make such a difference for local organizations. By donating their expertise, our Pro Bono Consultants have brought clarity and energy to organizations, addressing the roadblocks and challenges that groups face. They’ve helped organizations develop tools, plans, products, and processes that have made organizations stronger, better resourced, more efficient and effective. This, in turn, has led to groups being more visible, recognized for their programs, leadership and commitment, and more engaged with their stakeholders and broader communities.

Overall, what our matches do is help organizations helping Winnipeg’s marginalized do better. By having greater staff capacity, in turn those staff can spend more time on what they really want to be doing: helping those in need, and changing lives.

If you’d like to volunteer your skills, or think your community development group could use a match, get in touch with us today. Or, consider making a donation to help us continue this important work.