Contribution and attribution claims are methods used to quantify the social value of community investments, including grants, in-kind donations, and pro bono service.
A contribution claim represents the portion of a nonprofit’s overall social impact that you can claim as a result of your investment.
To calculate a contribution claim:
- Monetize the grant, in-kind goods, or services you performed using the hourly value for the type of volunteer services provided.
- Calculate what percentage this represents of the nonprofit program’s total implementation cost.
- Calculate an equivalent percentage of the program’s overall social value (successful outcomes).
In short, you can link your investment to a portion of the nonprofit’s social impact equal to the portion of the program you supported through your donation of time (i.e., % support = % of impact).
Use a contribution claim if:
The investment supported direct service for a nonprofit (e.g. distribution of meals, mentoring students).
The investment increased the capacity or effectiveness of services for a nonprofit (e.g. training staff, upgrading IT systems, creating operational efficiencies) in a broad way that is too entwined with other operations to separate effects and end outcomes.
You don’t have data on the change in outcomes. (You may have output metrics such as improved stakeholder satisfaction scores, but no data on whether more of the nonprofit’s beneficiaries are achieving success as a result of your volunteer efforts.)
An attribution claim is the net improvement in successful outcomes that are a direct result of your investment. An attribution claim is typically applicable in cases where the grant, donation, or volunteers increase the capacity of the nonprofit to serve more people or to be more effective in achieving its mission. This type of service, commonly called pro bono or skills-based volunteerism, is especially powerful because it matches a nonprofit need with skilled volunteers, and more precisely captures the social impact generated, which can far surpass the value calculated based on the value of services provided (i.e., the contribution claim).
To calculate an attribution claim:
Establish the baseline outcomes from the program or initiative your investment is serving.
Determine the outcomes of the program or initiative after your investment or pro bono support is complete.
Subtract the baseline outcomes from your post-project outcomes to determine the net effect of your investment.
Use an attribution claim if your support increased the capacity or effectiveness of services for a nonprofit (e.g. training staff, upgrading IT systems, creating operational efficiencies) in a way that is clearly and solely responsible for improving or increasing outcomes.
Both contribution and attribution claim are powerful metrics to communicate the results of your contributions. An attribution claim can be more compelling because it often, due to the strategic nature of skills-based volunteerism, results in greater social impact and more memorable storytelling. However, attribution claims are not always practical to calculate because they require the net outcome associated with the outcomes of a single grant, donation, or pro bono project.