When you think of the Netherlands, images of tulips, wooden shoes and cheese probably come to mind. It was the same for Dr. Maribeth V. Swanson, Central territorial social services secretary, until her view was greatly expanded this summer while presenting at The Salvation Army’s Realization of Outcomes and Impact Reporting Conference in the Netherlands. She was invited to share what the Central Territory has learned from its implementation of the Pathway of Hope initiative and other social service models that support an integrated ministry approach, as well as the gains the territory has made in impact measurement.
Approximately 40 social service program directors and administrators, as well as key staff from finance and technology departments, gathered to lay the groundwork for assessing and developing their course of action. In a follow-up session with the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Slovakia Territory’s administrative and information technology teams, Maribeth shared the Central Territory’s Salvation Army Information Management System (SIMS), demonstrating its client documentation tools and reporting functions. Government entities, foundations and donors increasingly are asking for organizations to document their short-term and long-term social impact on their identified community or programs. Not unique to the U.S., this challenge is being faced by The Salvation Army in many developed countries.
“It was a privilege to be a presenter for this master class in impact measurement. Yet, there is a myth of measurement. We can’t codify everything we do. For instance, measurement cannot capture the essence of what makes our lives and organizations worthwhile. It comes down to the love, relationships and community that we build across all facets of The Salvation Army,” said Maribeth. “I think the Netherlands officers, soldiers and employees are off to a good start in affirming their motto, ‘Together We’re One,’ which supports the Army’s mission and message.”