Leveraging the SDGs to Maximize Your Impact

When measuring your impact, you probably do so in relation to the specific needs of the community you serve, but you are also just one in a broader network of organizations working collectively to create a sustainable future for all. Each step you take to maximize your impact creates a ripple that carries through to create global change. Once you understand your part in this matrix of good, you can better tell your story and articulate your value in grant writing.

One of the easiest ways to contextualize your work is the United Nations Foundation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 Sustainable Development Goals outline the most pressing and complex social issues facing the earth and offer a framework for ending world poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring peace and well-being for all its people. The UN Foundation created them to highlight what needs to be achieved by 2030 and track progress.

The Blackbaud Institute’s SDG Connector offers a simplified breakdown of the 17 goals and their 169 targets. It serves as a guide to navigating the information, how your mission aligns, and the attainment of each goal. By breaking down each goal into consumable sections, we hope you will be able to maximize the impact of the SDGs, harness a shared language in seeking funding, and bring about greater change.

We are excited to introduce a new, FREE guide to leveraging the SDG Connector for your organization.This guide will walk you through the steps below in determining your organization’s role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

Let’s say your organization advocates for high-speed internet access in rural areas, helping students of all ages achieve digital literacy and support quality education. Here are some examples of how you can leverage the SDGs to maximize your impact:

  • Assess the good you can do: Match your organization with an SDG, such as “Quality Education,” to take a broader view of your potential impact and see what others are doing in this sphere.
  • Connect your cause to global efforts: No matter how many constituents you reach, your work benefits global sustainability. The SDGs allow you to connect the work you’re already doing to specific targets, such as the “Quality Education” target of “By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.”
  • Measure your progress: The UN Foundation further made measuring success easier by providing us with a global indicator framework. It lists 231 unique KPIs organizations can use that tie into the broader SDGs, such as the “Proportion of Youth and Adults with Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Skills by Type of Skill.”
  • Illustrate your impact: Connecting your existing programs and efforts to the SDGs gives you a shared language to use with federal grant makers and foundations and stirs inspiration in your community. By identifying, connecting, and measuring your impact against the SDGs, you can illustrate your global impact to supporters, constituents, and prospective donors.

Maybe the case study above doesn’t apply to you, but your work—whether in an arts and culture nonprofit or a neighborhood mutual aid network—plays a part in the systems that make up our global world. We invite you to explore the SDGs and take steps to implement them in your operational strategy today.