Mapping Progress, with a Purpose

Measuring our progress in achieving our goals and fulfilling our mission is more important than ever. In a world of economic volatility, government constraint and increasing transparency, funders and their grantees need more effective ways to demonstrate their individual and collective impact to a broadening array of interested stakeholders. Blair shared the steps the Ontario Trillium Foundation took to re-invent how they measure the impact of their granting, what they measure, and why. Through a focus on balancing accountability with an action learning agenda, using mixed measurement methods, increasing engagement with grantees, staff and volunteers, and experimentation, you, too, can improve how you map your progress towards achieving your organization’s mission.

(Please note: we had a technical problem in the last 4 minutes of Blair’s presentation, which affected the audio. You can still hear his presentation clearly (thanks for a great presentation voice, Blair!), but you will detect a difference in the quality. Thanks for understanding!)

Download the presentation slides (PDF).

Five Good Ideas

  1. Map to the why: measuring progress is mission critical.
  2. From accountability to action learning: thinking “if…, then….”
  3. Ask the right questions.
  4. Make what you measure work for you.
  5. In our world of networks, engage.

Five Good Resources

  1. Jim Collins, “Good to Great for the Social Sectors;” Grantcraft, “Mapping Change.”
  2. 4th Quadrant Partners, “Where Learning Turns into Results;” International Development Research Centre, “Tools and Training.”
  3. Charting Impact, “The 5 Questions;” Social Asset Measurements “Non-Profit and Charitable Solutions.”
  4. Grantcraft, “Making Measures Work for You;” Center for Effective Philanthropy, “Foundation Performance Assessment Framework.”
  5. Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement: “Resource Library;” Innovation Network: “Point K Learning Center;” Grantmakers for Effective Organizations: “Do Nothing About Me Without Me.”

Blair Dimock

Director, Research, Evaluation and Knowledge Management, Ontario Trillium Foundation


Blair Dimock joined the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) in March 2006, where he is responsible for leading the Foundation’s strategies and action plans in the areas of research, evaluation, convening and knowledge-sharing. Prior to joining OTF, Blair served as Director of Strategic Planning and Research at TVOntario, as a Research and Partnership Coordinator with the Ontario Premier’s Council, and as a Lecturer in International Politics at Trent University and the University of Toronto. Blair holds an Honours B.A. from Mount Allison University, an M.A. from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, and pursued additional graduate studies at Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto. Blair’s community work has included the Learning Partnership, the Metro Toronto Zoo, and the Centre for the Study of Education and Work (UofT). Blair coaches with the East York Hockey Association and volunteers in the Public Skating and Bike Works programs at the Evergreen Brickworks. In his spare time Blair enjoys playing hockey and golf, backcountry camping, cycling and cooking. Blair lives in Toronto with his wife Verity and their twin sons Cameron and Malcolm.