The Improve Group recently partnered with Highland Friendship Club (HFC), a St. Paul organization devoted to creating opportunities for people with disabilities to make friends, connect with their communities, and learn life skills. We are excited to share a guest column from HFC Executive Director Dan Reed about our work together.
The Improve Group Proves Our Worth
For more than 16 years, Highland Friendship Club has been supporting people with disabilities and their families by enriching their lives through social activities, the arts, health and wellness, and programming in many other areas. As Executive Director, I saw the power of our programs and how effective they were at helping our members become better self-advocates, family members, students, and employees. I knew that our programs are more than nice, they are needed.
But I had to prove it. That is where The Improve Group came in—to help HFC illustrate to grantors and other funders that their financial support was money well-spent.
Through a series of work sessions, The Improve Group worked with us to devise a variety of survey options. Because we work with people with special needs, it was especially important that we knew how to ask questions to gather the insights we needed, and that we offered a dynamic system of measuring success and happiness.
The results: The Improve Group delivered a two-page summary that showed very simply how our programs benefit our members and their lives. Among the findings:
- Nine out of 10 participants learned how to make friends.
- HFC is person-centered, with all participants agreeing, “staff helped me feel comfortable.”
- And nearly all participants said they use what they learned at HFC at home, work, school, or other places.
Additionally, The Improve Group provided us a longer report of findings for internal use. Through this partnership, we at HFC now have tools and the skills we need for future evaluation.
We included the two-page report in our year-end appeal letter. The response was remarkable. We more than doubled the dollars that we have raised in the past, with many of our donors expressing their appreciation for us sharing our evaluation results. By helping us measure and articulate our impact, The Improve Group deepened the impact of HFC work.
Dan Reed, Executive Director
Highland Friendship Club